Mardi Gras, a legendary celebration usually filed with parades, music, dancing and drinking, is going to look a lot different this year in New Orleans.
On Friday, the city’s mayor, LaToya Cantrell, announced that bars throughout the city will be closed starting February 12 through Mardi Gras Day, which takes place on February 16.
A list of rules and restrictions were also set in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. Liquor sales in NOLA’s French Quarter will be prohibited, along with street vendors and street performers.
Bourbon, Decatur and Frenchman streets will also be closed to people and vehicles form 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. every day. The Claiborne underpass will be barricaded off, and there will be an increased police presence on Bourbon Street and throughout New Orleans.
Louisiana state troopers, fire marshals, and agents from the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control will be focused on New Orleans during this five-day period as well, Governor John Bel Edwards revealed.
“There’s a good chance that someone travels in and brings the virus,” he told WWL-TV. “And if they don’t, there’s a good chance when they go home they’re going to take it home with them.”
The Orpheus Leviathan float, with smoke and fiber optic lights, rolls down Napoleon Avenue in the 2019 Krewe of Orpheus Parade on March 4, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Erika Goldring/Getty Images
These restrictions are intended to keep this year’s Mardi Gras from being a coronavirus super spreader event, since typically hundreds of people line the streets for parades and parties.
“When it comes to our health and our people,” Cantrell said Friday, “I’d rather be accused of doing too much than too little.”
The 2021 restrictions come days after videos of people packed on Bourbon Street were circulating on Twitter. They appeared to not be wearing masks or social distancing. Nola.com noted that Cantrell called the incident “totally unacceptable.”
“This is dangerous. This risks lives. And it risks the progress our city has made,” she added, regarding stopping the coronavirus from spreading.
Recently, the city eased restrictions, allowing dining at a higher capacity and gatherings of up to 25 people. But with Mardi Gras around the corner, big celebrations could cause a surge in COVID cases.
Ultimately, Cantrell’s goal is to keep people from gathering over the holiday. “There’s a major focus on mitigating large gatherings and crowds in the city now and as we move towards Mardi Gras,” the mayor said at a press conference on Thursday, as per WWL-TV.
At the moment, Louisiana has 409,000 reported coronavirus cases and 9,044 deaths, according to The New York Times. Over 700 people in New Orleans have died from the coronavirus, Nola.com revealed. Additionally, Louisiana reported having cases of the highly contagious U.K. COVID-19 strain, which has potential to become the most dominant strain in the U.S. by March.