Not Essential, but Not Ordered to Close: Addressing the Grey Area in the Stay at Home Order

Updated May 4, 2020

The Governor’s Stay at Home Order, which has been extended through at least May 15, set guardrails for business operation. Essential businesses are open. Salons, entertainment venues, and a handful of other businesses are closed. But what about everything else?   

For those businesses not explicitly provided guidance or instruction, the Governor’s order set limitations, but not closures. As BRAC has advised throughout the course of the stay-at-home era, businesses should not assume they are closed unless explicitly specified in the Governor’s order. To help businesses determine whether they can be operating, under the limitations provided by the Stay at Home Order, BRAC has attempted to clarify the guardrails. The Governor’s office published these clarifications on May 1, and expects to announce next steps on or before May 11.

What does “closed” mean?

Closed means that a business’s physical location is not to be open to the public. This is to reduce transmission of the virus between employees and customers and to limit the contamination of surfaces. Closure does not prohibit businesses from offering virtual services such as consultations, online sales, and other methods of contactless sales. You may also perform necessary tasks such as payroll, cleaning, and maintenance.

What businesses are specifically closed?

Governor Edwards’ Stay at Home Order specifically closed a handful of business types, which include those in the following working list. The order is set to expire May 15, but could be renewed if Louisiana fails to meet the required milestones to move to Phase 1 of the White House plan for economic reopening.  

  • Casinos 
  • Video poker establishments 
  • Movie Theaters 
  • Bars 
  • Bowling alleys 
  • Fitness centers and gyms 
  • Places of Public Amusement 
    • Carnivals 
    • Amusement parks 
    • Water parks 
    • Trampoline parks 
    • Aquariums 
    • Zoos 
    • Museums 
    • Arcades 
    • Fairs 
    • Pool halls 
    • Children’s play centers 
    • Playgrounds 
    • Theme parks 
    • Theaters 
    • Concert and music halls 
    • Adult entertainment venues 
    • Racetracks 
    • Other similar 
  • Personal Care and Grooming Businesses 
    • Barber shops 
    • Beauty salons 
    • Nail salons 
    • Spas 
    • Massage parlors 
    • Tattoo parlors 
    • Other similar 

What businesses are specifically open?

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity Infrastructure Agency (CISA) guidance, the following essential industries are open. In the Baton Rouge Area, more than 45 percent of our workforce is in essential industries.   

  • Healthcare/Public Health  
  • Law Enforcement, Public Safety, First Responders  
  • Food and Agriculture  
  • Energy  
    • Electricity  
    • Petroleum  
    • Natural Gas  
  • Water and Wastewater  
  • Transportation and Logistics  
  • Public Works and Infrastructure Support  
  • Communications and Information Technology  
  • Other Community- or Government-Based Operations and Essential Functions  
  • Critical Manufacturing  
  • Malls  
    • Stores in a mall that have a direct outdoor entrance and exit AND that also provide essential services and products as provided by CISA guidelines may be open. 
    • Other mall retailers may offer curbside retail only. 
    • All employees dealing with the public must wear face masks. 
  • Restaurants / Cafes / Coffee Shops  
    • Establishments are limited to delivery, take-out, and drive-thru only 
    • Outdoor dining is allowed without table side service and with proper social distancing. 
    • Employees interacting with the public must wear face masks. 
  • Early learning centers and childcare facilities adhering to the guidance issued by the Louisiana Department of Education and Office of Public Health may continue to operate. 

What businesses are in the grey area?

Any business not covered by the guidance from CISA and not ordered to temporarily close by Governor Edwards’ order may remain open under specific public safety limitations. They must reduce operations to limit contact between members of the public and essential employees. Reduced operations require proper social distancing and adherence to the 10-person limit on gathering size set forth in the Governor’s order. Additional best practices for operating under social distancing include:  

  • Employees interacting with the public must wear masks. 
  • Employees should ensure consistent and correct use of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.);  
  • Employees, customers, and members of the public should be six feet apart at all times;  
  • Employees must not be permitted to work if they have a fever or symptoms of COVID-19;  
  • In addition to the 10-person limitation on gathering size, establishments should implement a reduced occupancy rate (i.e. 25 percent of Fire Marshal capacity); and,  
  • Personnel must follow cleaning protocols as outlined by the CDC.   

If you are unsure about where your business falls, contact Louisiana Economic Development at or via the toll-free hotline, (833) 457-0531. Businesses are also advised to contact the Governor’s office and consult with legal counsel to verify compliance with the orders. 

For updates on this and other business-related guidance, visit

Elizabeth Walker

As the Policy and Research Project Manager, Elizabeth Walker provides leadership on initiatives and policies, project management, research analysis and administration for initiatives that advance BRAC’s annual policy agenda.

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