Nearly two years to the day after Governor John Bel Edwards signed an emergency declaration putting in place COVID restrictions, that order will expire, bringing those restrictions to an end.

Governor John Bel Edwards announced during his annual State of the State Address on Monday that he will allow that emergency order to lapse when it reaches its Wednesday expiration date.

"It was exactly two years ago today that we marked the first death from COVID-19 in Louisiana," Edwards said during his speech. "Since then, over 16,800 Louisianans have died, and more than 1.2 million cases have been confirmed. "But a lot has changed since this time two years ago. We have safe and effective vaccines that are saving countless lives. We have better therapeutic treatments. High-quality masks are now a practical option for families. Cases and hospitalizations have been steadily dropping since we emerged from the Omicron fueled surge this winter. Parades rolled again this Mardi Gras. If that’s not a Louisiana breeze of hope, I don’t know what is. "

Edwards told lawmakers assembled for the joint session of the legislature that he would consider reinstating restrictions if COVID cases and deaths begin rising again.

"Just because the proclamation is expiring doesn’t mean COVID is over," Edwards said. "If the circumstances call for it, I will not hesitate to declare another emergency. But God willing, we will never have to see such difficult mitigation measures in our state again.

"I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that we are in a much better place today than we were two years ago."

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