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.
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.
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!”
Mardi Gras is more than just king cakes and beads, it is a religious holiday, a season of traditions that will be celebrated differently.— The City Of New Orleans (@CityOfNOLA) November 17, 2020
With #COVID19 spreading, we need to modify carnival season so it’s safe for everyone. We can do this together! #MardiGras2021 pic.twitter.com/BGpQ08ybFq
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.
#COMMUNITYSPREAD: #NOLA positive test rate has nearly DOUBLED in the last week. In #NewOrleans, we've raised the #covid19 threat level to RED, indicating an active outbreak. ↔️— Mayor LaToya Cantrell (@mayorcantrell) November 17, 2020
Treat everyone you meet as if they have #COVID19 ↔️ @ItsMystikal pic.twitter.com/sdWogzJm7x
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.