One week after Governor John Bel Edwards allowed state-imposed COVID restrictions to expire, the city of New Orleans is cancelling its COVID restrictions.

According to a press release and a tweet issued by Mayor LaToya Cantrell's office, those restrictions were lifted at 6 a.m. Monday morning. This includes the guidelines requiring people to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter bars, restaurants, event spaces, and other businesses open for public accommodation.

“This is a critical and welcome milestone,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in that press release. “I am deeply grateful to our entire community--our residents, our business owners, and our hospitality industry--for coming together to make this day possible. It could not have happened without our people taking the guidelines seriously and helping us not only flatten the curve but emerge from the pandemic as a safe destination city. With the return of Mardi Gras this year, we were able to celebrate safely. And now we are ready for this next step. We will continue to closely monitor the data, and remain guided by science.”

City health officials say Cantrell's claim of a safe Mardi Gras celebration is backed up by science. They say COVID case counts and hospitalizations remain low. They also say wastewater testing has found low viral transmissions.

Still, Cantrell and other New Orleans leaders urge people to take precautions to protect themselves and others from the novel coronavirus.

"Residents should prepare for the likelihood of future surges by continuing to assess risk levels for themselves and loved ones and relying on proven mitigation strategies: testing, masks, and staying up to date with COVID vaccinations," the press release states.

Mask mandates will remain in effect in places where federal law requires them. This includes on public transportation and in medical facilities.

Reaction online to the announcement has been mixed with positivity and cynicism.

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