COVID-19 Vaccination and Masking Requirements

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December 21, 2021 - Gov. John Bel Edwards extended Louisiana’s Public Health Emergency order related to COVID-19, including a provision allowing all state government agencies to require mask wearing, given the fast-spreading Omicron variant, which is now the dominant strain in the United States and Louisiana according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). State agencies in the Governor’s Cabinet will begin requiring masks of employees and visitors.

What is the most recent guidance for protection against the virus before the Christmas/New Year’s holidays?

To protect yourself, get vaccinated and, if eligible, get boosted. The COVID-19 vaccine protects against severe outcomes from COVID, including hospitalization and death.

To reduce transmission, regardless of vaccination status, mask indoors when not with your everyday household.

  • LDH recommends wearing masks indoors in all public settings.
  • People should consider wearing a mask indoors in private settings as well, especially if you are gathering with individuals at a high risk of severe outcome, which includes older people and those with underlying health conditions.
  • Masks are effective in protecting infection against all of the currently circulating variants. 

Regardless of vaccination status, get tested multiple times. Get a test before you travel, before a gathering, and upon returning from travel. There are COVID-19 test sites throughout Louisiana. Visit ldh.la.gov/covidtesting or call 211 to find a test site near you.

Use a mask when gathering with others who are not immediate household member who are at high risk. LDH recommends outdoor gatherings and small gatherings.

Masks Mandate: Effective October 27, Gov. John Bel Edwards lifted Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate in all settings except for K-12 schools, after sustained improvement across the state in terms of new cases, test positivity and hospitalizations. 

Schools: This mask requirement continues to apply to K-12 schools in Louisiana. However, public and non-public schools may opt out of the mandate if they adopt isolation and quarantine policies for students, faculty, and staff.

Outdoor Guidance: Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask but are encouraged to physically distance from others.

Get Vaccinated: Studies show that vaccines are effective at preventing illness, hospitalization and death, and vaccinated individuals are less likely to spread the virus. The U.S. is sequencing viruses to identify variants, and vaccines are effective against currently circulating variant viruses.

People are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

If you don’t meet these requirements, regardless of your age, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.

When Should Fully Vaccinated People Wear a Mask?

In addition to the current indoor mask mandate, there are certain settings where vaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks — either due to close proximity, high turnover of individuals, individuals being at higher risk for severe disease, comingling of individuals from multiple different locations, or co-mingling of individuals with varied vaccination statuses (including settings with children who are too young to be vaccinated). These settings include:

  • Communal and public transportation and within airports and stations (planes, trains, buses, etc.)
  • Schools and school buses — including teachers, staff and students
  • Healthcare settings — including hospitals, long-term care facilities and doctors’ offices
  • Correctional facilities — including staff and inmates/detainees/offenders when applicable
  • Homeless shelters

Masks should always be worn when required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations.

Masks should still be worn in private businesses and workplaces which require them.

Fully vaccinated people with conditions or medications that weaken the immune system should consult with their healthcare providers to decide if they should continue taking all precautions (including masking).

Fully vaccinated individuals who wish to further reduce risk may choose to continue wearing a mask, especially those in communities with lower vaccination rates and higher rates of disease.