RTA, NORD and libraries outline their Phase 1 reopening plans

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(RTA illustration)

New Orleans is embarking on the first week of Phase 1 in reopening the city as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed nearly 500 lives in the city and more than 2,000 deaths statewide.

If you use public transit, the city’s recreational facilities or the public library, here’s what you can expect from those agencies during this initial phase.

Regional Transit Authority

Beginning Sunday (May 17), the RTA returned to Saturday service on all bus and streetcar routes.

The RTA also will go back to collecting fares as part of the Phase 1 reopening of the city. For more information regarding fares, visit www.RTAforward.org/fares-passes.

To promote social distancing, speed boarding and reduce lines, riders are encouraged to prepurchase fare via the GoMobile app available (in the Apple App or Google Play stores). Fare can also be purchased at local Walgreens stores or on RTA’s website at www.RTAforward.org. Riders without GoMoblie should have their exact fare accessible for swift payment to mitigate exposure to transit operators.

To protect riders and operators, all passengers must wear a mask or other face covering that covers the mouth and nose when using public transit. This requirement does not apply to children under the age of 2 or individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical condition.

The RTA continues to urge the community to practice social distancing when using transit and exit at the rear of the vehicle to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

Bus and streetcar routes will operate on a Saturday schedule, seven days a week. All routes that were previously suspended will be reinstated.

New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission

NORD opened all outdoor parks, playgrounds, walking paths, trails, outdoor fitness centers, and outdoor tennis courts beginning Saturday. Hours for all open outdoor amenities are daylight to dusk.

The playspot and passive playground play structures are still closed. A modified baseball and softball season will start in June. Contact sports will not be reinstated in Phase 1.

The fitness centers will open beginning today (Monday, May 18) and will be available at 25% capacity Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. To manage the capacity, you must make a reservation and have a NORD RecTrac card or account.

Indoor pools are open for lap swimming only, and reservations are required. Outdoor pools are closed.

See here for a list of programs and facilities in the Phase 1 reopening.

NORD, in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, continues to offer hot meals at rec centers and playgrounds from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. A list of feeding sites can be found here.

New Orleans Public Library

Libraries will not immediately reopen to the public. Library staff returned to work Monday (May 18) for training and planning sessions related to providing services based on the Phase 1 requirements for the safety of library users and staff.

Since March 16, about 92 percent of library staff members have been on civil leave, so Monday will be the first opportunity to finalize plans together, as a library system. NOPL expects to provide finalized Phase 1 plans later this week.

Patrons can continue to utilize the library’s e-Resources, including free streaming movies, online homework help, e-Books and audiobooks, virtual storytimes, genealogy resources, downloadable music, online language learning, magazines and newspapers and so more. They can be found here.

As plans are finalized, library officials will send out updated information via email, on the NOPL website and through social media channels.

Continue to hold on to any checked out items. All due dates and late fines are suspended while the library is closed.

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