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Reopening Louisiana Businesses: Not Quite Business as Usual


The Louisiana State Fire Marshal has issued guidance for Louisiana businesses and organizations to assist them in complying with Governor Edwards' Phase One re-opening of businesses. The update specifically pointed out that these instructions/limitations do NOT apply to essential businesses – only those non-essential businesses that are not prohibited from re-opening.

Occupant Capacity and Building Safety Rules

Maximum building capacity during Phase 1 is limited to 25%, which will apply to every room in a building and not just the entire facility. This means that offices and individual rooms can have either one person per 300 square feet of the gross area OR 25% of the posted capacity from the Fire Marshal. The only exception is if these two factors reduce a business' capacity to below 10 people, then a 10-person minimum is allowed.

The following restrictions also apply:

  • Occupants must maintain six feet of distance between them at all times.
  • Reduced employee capacity to allow for six-foot distancing between employees.
  • No physical contact between employees and clients.
  • One occupant per private individual office.
  • Open office areas must be arranged so that there is at least six feet of distance between people sharing that space.
  • A maximum of ten people are allowed in conference rooms with six feet of distance between each person
  • Temporary access to break rooms allowed for one employee at a time.
  • Employees who can should continue working remotely.
  • No interior waiting rooms are allowed – instead customers should wait outside, following the six feet social distancing guideline, or in their cars.
  • No gatherings in the building while entering, exiting, or moving about.

Management should:

  • Actively enforce the capacity and social distancing requirements and manage the clients' movements.
  • Ensure the exterior waiting areas are not blocked.
  • Maintain social distancing requirements amongst employees and those required in conference rooms, individual offices, and interior/exterior waiting areas. A sample spacing layout can be found here.
  • Take proactive steps to protect public health by minimizing water stagnation during closures and act to address building water quality prior to reopening. EPA guidelines can assist with this.
  • Follow the CDC guidelines for guidance for proper cleaning and disinfecting.

Staff should:

  • Check for fever or respiratory symptoms daily.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance from other employees and clients.
  • Wear face coverings and wash hands OFTEN.
  • Wear gloves when touching products, goods, money, and credit cards.
  • If gloves are worn, then wash hands before putting them on/taking them off and change them often – between tasks, after interaction with a new individual, and when soiled.
  • If gloves are not worn or are unavailable, use hand sanitizer between each task and after client interaction.
  • Clean and sanitize items you touch often including desks, counters, and surfaces that clients touch often, such as doorknobs, handles, plates, light switches, countertops, refrigerators, freezer door handles, etc.
  • Clean and disinfect the restrooms regularly.
  • Do not touch the clients.

Cleaning recommendations for rooms/items:

  • Clean the area/item with soap and water or another detergent and follow up with an EPA-registered disinfectant, if possible.
  • Follow product recommendations, which include:
    • Keeping surfaces wet for a period of time.
    • Wear gloves and have good ventilation when disinfecting.
    • Dilute household bleach solutions when using them and make sure it is suitable for disinfecting.
    • Don't mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
    • Leave the solution on the surface for at least one minute.
    • Use alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol.

Businesses wishing to receive this information directly from the Louisiana State Fire Marshal can register their businesses at, which is designed to answer business owners' questions and provide information on safely re-opening.

If you have any questions about New Orleans' Phase One Re-Opening, please contact Noah Kressler or Nyka Scott. Also, please visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19): What You Need to Know information page on our website.

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