New Orleans will require 5-year-olds to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to enter restaurants, skating rinks, arcades and other public places, starting Monday.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she is implementing the policy “to keep the omicron variant at bay,” amid surging cases in Orleans Parish. Most of southeast Louisiana is currently labeled high risk, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
The city’s vaccine passport system already ranks among the most stringent public health protocols in the country, alongside New York City and San Francisco. Residents and visitors have had to show proof of vaccination or negative tests to enter businesses and government buildings since August, including children age 12 and older.
Cantrell said during a recent news conference her updated vaccination mandate is timed for the new year, though not the New Year’s holiday.
“The vaccine mandate will expand to include children ages 5-11,” she said. "We will require proof of vaccination or negative tests at bars and restaurants and other locations for everyone ages 5 and older.”
Cantrell expressed a more strident message on social media: “The bottom line is this: You need to be vaccinated. You need to get your booster shot. Starting in January, you MUST ensure that your children are getting vaccinated!”
New Orleans residents and visitors over age 5 will have to show proof of one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, beginning Monday, or a negative test taken within 72 hours. Proof of two doses will be required by Feb. 1, or a negative PCR, molecular or antigen test taken within 72 hours.
New Orleans has been in a “Modified Phase Three” public health designation since Oct. 27, allowing for vaccination, mask and public gathering restrictions pursuant to the mayor’s emergency powers.
NOLA Ready, the city’s coronavirus information website, states there is no accompanying mask mandate outside of city educational institutions, health care facilities and public transportation operations.
“Although not required, unvaccinated individuals over the age of 2 should wear a mask in public indoor spaces,” the website reads.
According to NOLA Ready, proof of vaccination can be established one of three ways: the state of Louisiana’s Wallet App; an original, digital or photocopy of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved vaccine card; or an official record issued by another state, foreign nation or the World Health Organization.