New Orleans is closing bars ahead of Mardi Gras after large crowds were spotted in the French Quarter last weekend

Melissa Wiley
·2 min read
New Orleans Mardi Gras 2020
Revelers carry open containers on Bourbon Street during the evening of Mardi Gras on February 25, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Barry Lewis/In Pictures/Getty Images
  • New Orleans is closing down bars and banning to-go drinks ahead of Mardi Gras.

  • The new restrictions will go into effect February 12 in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • The announcement comes after large crowds were spotted in the French Quarter last weekend.

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Every winter, around 1.4 million revelers flock to New Orleans to participate in its famed Mardi Gras celebrations.

Every winter, that is, except this one.

On Friday, New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell announced in a press conference that starting February 12 through Mardi Gras Day on the 16th, bars throughout the city will be closed and the sale of to-go drinks will be prohibited.

Mardi Gras is the period of "feasting and fun" that occurs between January 6 and Fat Tuesday, according to New Orleans' official Mardi Gras website. Part of that "fun" for many involves strolling around the French Quarter clutching strings of colorful beads in one hand and oversized cups of booze in the other, thanks to the city's open-container law.

Sales of packaged liquor in the French Quarter will also be prohibited beginning February 12, and no foot or vehicle traffic will be permitted on the French Quarter's iconic Bourbon, Frenchmen, and Decatur streets from 7 p.m. through 3 a.m., with the exception of residents, hotel guests, and employees.

The new restrictions come after large crowds were spotted in the French Quarter this past weekend.

Late last Saturday, a 14-second video emerged on Twitter of revelers dancing in close proximity, many without masks. Cantrell's office responded to video, calling it "unacceptable."

Cantrell previously announced in November that New Orleans' Mardi Gras parades would not take place in 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Social gatherings are currently limited to 25 people outdoors and 10 indoors under phase 2 of New Orleans' reopening.

Read more: With Mardi Gras parades canceled, New Orleans residents are turning their homes into extravagant 'floats'

"The magnitude of the additional restrictions, coupled with the cancellation late last year of all parades and balls, is unprecedented in the modern era of Carnival," Cantrell wrote in a Twitter thread on Friday. "But so too is the public-health crisis New Orleans faces amid a slow rollout of vaccines and reports of new, more transmissible coronavirus variants that are spreading in the city."

Cantrell concluded her thoughts on Twitter with a message to those who are upset about the restrictions. "When it comes to the health of our people, I'd rather be accused of doing too much than not enough," she said.

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