October 18, 2021

Volume XI, Number 291

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October 18, 2021

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New Orleans to Require Proof of Vaccination or Negative COVID-19 Test to Enter Indoor Facilities

On August 12, 2021, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the City of New Orleans Health Department announced updated Guidelines for COVID-19 Reopening, which require individuals to provide proof of “having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine” or “evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before entry” in order to access certain indoor establishments. These indoor facilities include: (1) bars, restaurants, and breweries; (2) gyms, group fitness centers, and individual fitness classes; and (3) entertainment and performance venues, such as indoor sports stadiums, concert halls, event spaces, pool halls, bowling alleys, arcades, adult live performance venues, casinos, racetracks, and video poker establishments. The restrictions went into effect on August 16, 2021; however, enforcement will reportedly be suspended until August 23, 2021.

Eligible Individuals

The updated guidelines apply to “all individuals who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” and so, consistent with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the restrictions do not apply to children who are 11 years of age and younger. The New Orleans mayoral website explicitly includes employees in its definition of individuals covered by the guidelines.

Required Proof

According to the updated guidelines, an individual can provide proof of vaccination by showing an original CDC vaccination card or a digital picture or photocopy of both sides of the card. Individuals may also show an electronic record of COVID-19 vaccination through the LA Wallet smartphone app or an equivalent electronic record provided by another state.

Enforcement

Pursuant to Louisiana law and City of New Orleans regulations, any violation of these guidelines is subject to a penalty of up to $500 and/or imprisonment of several months (Louisiana state law provides for “confine[ment] in the parish jail for not more than six months” while the New Orleans City Code authorizes “imprisonment for not more than five months”).

The guidelines state that additional enforcement measures “may include, but are not limited to, prohibiting a business from offering take-out services, revocation of a business’s ability to open under these guidelines, revocation of any special event or live entertainment permits, revocation of certificates of registration, misdemeanor charges for owners, managers, and/or staff, and cessation of electrical service to the business,” as well as revocation of alcohol permits. Finally, the guidelines state that “[t]hese emergency orders will be strictly enforced.”

Key Takeaways

All businesses in New Orleans may want to consider whether any aspect of their operations are subject to these new requirements and whether to develop updated COVID-19 procedures for affected employees and customers. This is especially true for employers in industries that fall within those explicitly listed by the updated guidelines, such as hotels with restaurant, bar, catering, and event staff. The applicability of the guidelines is less clear for employees such as front desk staff or housekeeping. According to the updated guidelines, the underlying purpose of the vaccine mandate is to slow the transmission of COVID-19, particularly in crowded places or places of public accommodation that “feature or routinely allow for higher-risk interactions among patrons and staff.” Therefore employers may want to consider mandating employees who regularly interact with customers, such as front desk staff, to be vaccinated. In fact, the updated guidelines permit businesses outside of those specifically listed to “issu[e] vaccination and testing requirements for their staff and patrons.”

In addition to designating which employees are covered by the mandate, employers may want to consider updating their flyers, posters, fact sheets, or other materials to comply with federal, state, and local guidance; maintaining legally compliant records of workers’ vaccination or testing status (or any applicable exemptions); and training employees on how to screen individuals upon arrival to their premises in accordance with the mayor’s most recent guidelines.

© 2021, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 230
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About this Author

Andrew P. Burnside, Ogletree Deakins, Employment Law Matters Lawyer, Trade Secrets Attorney
Shareholder

Drew Burnside represents employers in federal and state courts, as well as federal and state administrative agencies, in employment law matters. Drew is admitted in Louisiana and Texas.

Drew has received an “AV” Preeminent Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell and was on the editorial board of Tulane Maritime Law Journal at Tulane University. He is a chapter editor of and contributing author to The Family and Medical Leave Act treatise, published by BNA. Drew also was contributing author to The Developing Labor Law (3rd ed. BNA).

...
504-648-2609
Ellen Rains, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, New Orleans, Labor and Employment Law Attorney
Associate

Ellen’s practice focuses on representing employers in a variety of employment law matters. A skilled litigator, Ellen devotes a substantial amount of her practice to employment litigation. She defends employers in administrative proceedings before the EEOC and other government agencies, and in litigation at the state and federal court level with respect to employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, as well as restrictive covenant, wage and hour, and other contract- and tort-based actions. Ellen Rains is a member of the employment law, higher education...

504-648-3840
Claire R. Pitre Labor & Employment Attorney Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart New Orleans, LA
Associate

Claire is an associate in the New Orleans office of Ogletree Deakins where she represents employers of all sizes in state and federal court litigation and administrative proceedings. Prior to joining Ogletree, Claire represented various private and quasi-public entities in a variety of litigation matters including labor and employment, construction, complex commercial litigation, and environmental litigation. Additionally, Claire has experience in defending EEOC investigations, FLSA, ADEA, ADA, WARN, Title VII, and Section 1983 lawsuits.

Prior to and during night school at Loyola...

504-648-3840
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