These COVID-19 Restrictions Will Completely Change Mardi Gras This Year
New Orleans will officially be under a lockdown order over Mardi Gras weekend, effectively shutting down celebrations of the beloved holiday.
Mayor Latoya Cantrell issued the order last week, mandating a complete shutdown of all bars and restaurants in the city from 6 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 until 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Additionally, no establishments will be allowed to sell to-go alcoholic drinks. If businesses don't comply, they risk being shut down on the spot and losing their licenses. (Related: The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)
The French Quarter, which hosts the city's annual Mardi Gras parades, will be under even stricter rules. All parades have been canceled; sales of packaged liquor have been banned in the area; and street vendors and performers have also been prohibited. To discourage large public gatherings, some of the busiest roads—like Bourbon and Frenchman Streets— will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians during evening hours. No parking zones will also be in effect in the area.
Restrictions also apply for those organizing Mardi Gras festivities in their own homes. Indoor gatherings will be capped at 10 people, while outdoor gatherings will be limited to 25. Participants are encouraged to wear face masks and maintain social distancing at all times.
The drastic measure comes as Louisiana's infection rates improve. However, the new U.K. variant of the virus, which is more highly transmissible, is quickly spreading through the state. Health experts predict the spread may cause another spike in cases before Louisiana is able to reach herd immunity through vaccinations, according to The Advocate. Additionally, a recent preprint study has found that last year's surge of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana can be traced back to the Feb. 25 Mardi Gras celebrations, further buoying the mayor's decision to cancel the event this year.