Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Wednesday loosened New Orleans's COVID-19 restrictions, ending the city's requirement that residents and visitors wear masks in public spaces and tweaking the city's vaccine mandate to allow a wider variety of negative coronavirus tests as an alternative to getting a shot. The new rules, which take effect Friday and will be in place for Halloween, follow the decision by Gov. John Bel Edwards earlier this week to end the statewide mask mandate. They also come amid a sharp decline in coronavirus cases in the city that has made city officials more willing to relax what have stood as the most stringent rules on vaccines and masks in Louisiana. Under the new rules, masks will no longer be required in restaurants, bars, gyms, stadiums and other public areas. But there are some exceptions. Masks will still be needed for people over 2 years old in hospitals and other health care facilities, K-12 schools and on public transportation.
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