Revellers warned to stay away from Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans


Coronavirus-related limits on access to Bourbon Street, shuttered bars and frigid weather all were expected to prevent what New Orleans usually craves at the end of Mardi Gras season — streets and businesses jam-packed with revellers.

Parades and parties on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and the days leading up to the annual pre-Lenten bash usually draw more than a million people to the streets.

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But parades were cancelled and mayor LaToya Cantrell recently ordered bars closed.

Even bars that had been allowed to operate as restaurants with “conditional” food permits were shuttered for five days that began on Friday.

People in Mardi Gras regalia gather outside a restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans on Friday (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Take-out drinks in “go-cups” also are forbidden — no more strolling the French Quarter with a drink in hand.

Bourbon Street was to be blocked to car and foot traffic at 7am, with access limited to residents, business managers and employees, hotel guests and restaurant patrons.

Various estimates showed hotels were likely to be anywhere from one-third to more than half full, far below the 90%-plus bookings of most years.

And city and state officials all but warned tourists away.

“If people think they’re going to come to Louisiana, anywhere, or New Orleans and engage in the kind of activities they would have pre-pandemic then they are mistaken and quite frankly they are not welcome here to do that,” governor John Bel Edwards said at a recent news conference.

Parts of Mardi Gras floats created by Kern Studios sit stored inside Mardi Gras World in New Orleans (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Freezing or near-freezing temperatures were forecast for Tuesday.

If the crowd control measures work, the scene will be in start contrast to Mardi Gras crowds last year that were later blamed for an early Louisiana outbreak of Covid-19.

Parades also were cancelled this year in Mobile, Alabama, which boasts the nation’s oldest Mardi Gras celebrations.

There was no plan to close bars there, but some streets were to be shut down to control traffic and allow for more outdoor seating and service at restaurants and bars.

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