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Mardi Gras parades are canceled in New Orleans amid COVID-19 outbreak

However, city officials are assuring residents that the holiday itself is not canceled

Crowds throng Bourbon Street in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras day in New Orleans, in 2011.
Crowds throng Bourbon Street in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras day in New Orleans, in 2011.
Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

The famous Mardi Gras parades will not be rolling down New Orleans’ historic Bourbon Street in 2021.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming Fat Tuesday is going to look drastically different from the city’s celebrations of years past.

City officials are assuring the residents of New Orleans that the holiday is not canceled, but rather modified with the help of a series of new restrictions and precautionary measures, CNN reports.

Key quote

Beau Tidwell, the communications director for Mayor LaToya Cantrell stated during a press conference on Tuesday:

“I want to be very clear. Mardi Gras 2021 is not canceled. It is going to look different. The mayor has been very consistent about saying that at every stage ... while we certainly want to move forward and find ways that we can celebrate, and we can mark this occasion, we have to do it safely. We have ... 10 more deaths in the last two weeks. The positivity rate doubled in the last week.”

About the restrictions

According to The Associated Press, New Orleans spokesman Beau Tidwell said in a statement on Tuesday that no parades will occur during the weeks leading up to and including Fat Tuesday.

  • The cancellations come as the result of a 250-person limit on outdoor events designed to slow the spread of the virus, AP reports.

The city first posted its no-parade decision on its website Monday afternoon together with a list of frequently asked questions about the coronavirus, The Associated Press reports.

Like many other parts of the country, the city has implemented a mandate requiring everyone to wear masks in public and maintain social distancing.

Although parades are canceled, the city has gone out of its way to assure community members that Mardi Gras itself is not canceled.

According to CNN, the city is still open to visitors, and high traffic areas like Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street will remain accessible to the public. A tweet posted by The City of New Orleans on Nov. 17 reads: “With (COVID-19) spreading, we need to modify this holiday season so it’s safe for everyone. We can do this together!”

The mayor’s office is currently accepting suggestions from residents on how to hold the carnival in a safe way. Suggestions can be submitted through the city’s website.

COVID-19 in New Orleans

According to CNN, COVID-19 cases in the city are rising to critical levels. The news about parade cancellations came on a day when coronavirus cases rose 2,592 statewide, reaching a total of 207,685 cases. In New Orleans alone, the day brought in 125 new positive tests as the country continues to grapple with worsening outbreaks, per The Associated Press.

Cantrell reported in a tweet on Nov. 17 that the New Orleans’ COVID-19 threat level had been raised to “red,” indicating an active outbreak. The mayor advised all citizens of the city to treat everyone they meet as if they were carrying the novel coronavirus.

The crowds from 2020’s Mardi Gras celebrations may have been among the reasons why New Orleans saw early spikes of COVID-19 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, according to The Associated Press.

The parade crowds not only crammed the city streets with a mix of tourists and residents, but the holiday season ended on Feb. 25 — nearly a month before people were first urged to start wearing masks.