NOLA leaders developing plan to prevent Mardi Gras from becoming super-spreader event
NEW ORLEANS — As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to alter the way Americans approach daily life, New Orleans officials are hoping to find a way to adapt the area's legendary Mardi Gras celebrations to a world changed by COVID-19.
According to WWL-TV, the typical carnival festivities that New Orleans is known for, such as packed streets and large in-person gatherings, cannot take place in a culture where masks and physical distancing requirements have become the norm.
So, the mayor’s office is working with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to create a plan that will accomplish the mammoth task of keeping people physically distanced throughout a holiday that's known for uniting thousands of strangers in unrestrained celebration.
"We remain in an unsafe environment,” said Beau Tidwell. “Large gatherings are not safe in this environment and they will not be permitted, not for Mardi Gras day or the days leading up to it.”
WWL-TV notes that it remains to be seen exactly what the enforcement will involve and how strict it will be.
Tidwell said the NOPD aims to prevent Mardi Gras from turning into a super-spreader event.
Local officials remain concerned due to a recent crop of videos surfacing that reveal large crowds of citizens gathering in person.
One video that was taken over the weekend, showed crowds of unmasked individuals gathering on Bourbon Street.
Tidwell says such gathering are unacceptable and the enforcement on Mardi Gras could mirror what has been seen on other recent holidays, WWL-TV reports.
“Much along the lines of what we did on New Years Eve, there are a number of options that are potentially at play. For Chief (Shaun) Ferguson all options are on the table,” said Tidwell.
In like manner, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said visitors are welcomed to the city for Mardi Gras, as long as they follow the rules. A search of hotel rooms in the area for carnival celebrations reveals that there is still plenty of availability.
Local bartenders assured WWL-TV that not every night on Bourbon Street is busy and explained that the days are also pretty slow.
Though many citizens want Mardi Gras celebrations to take place, they also hope these can be carried out in compliance with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
The city says its plan to enforce crowds will be released in the coming days.
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