The coronavirus pandemic has brought an end to New Orleans’ legendary Mardi Gras parades, at least for now.
The parades are canceled this year because the crowds that flock to them could spread the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported. The city’s mayor has invited the public to submit suggestions on safe ways to celebrate.
Mardi Gras Is Different This Year
City spokesman Beau Tidwell told the AP that the city will not allow parades in the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. He said they can’t realistically hold parades and comply with restrictions designed to slow the spread of the pandemic.
In New Orleans, officials are allowing no more than 250 people at outdoor gatherings.
“You can’t have traditional parades with that small a group,” Tidwell said.
A Lucrative Tourist Draw
The city posted its decision to cancel the parades online Monday afternoon in an FAQ page on the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Louisiana’s coronavirus case count jumped by 2,592 people. That includes 125 new positive tests in New Orleans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that the 2020 Carnival crowds may have been the reason why New Orleans suffered so much from the virus early on. The Carnival season and Mardi Gras are the most lucrative sources of tourism revenue for New Orleans.
The next Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 16.
The city’s mayor has pointed out that since Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday and is a religious holiday, it can’t be canceled. This year’s celebrations will just be different, she said.
“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,” said Tidwell, according to WVLT. “So 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.”