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Arts & Culture

Mardi Gras 2022: New Orleans mayor hints at potential COVID rules if Carnival returns

mardi gras.jpg
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Mardi Gras parade.

A decision to bring back Mardi Gras after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2021 Carnival season has not yet been made, but Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged Krewe leaders to search for ways to make Carnival season safe.

The Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Committee, which consists of parade krewe leaders, met at the Basin Street Station Thursday to plan for how Mardi Gras festivities can take place with COVID precautions in place.

Cantrell only hinted at the possibility of requiring proof of vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test during Mardi Gras when visiting the city of New Orleans, but didn’t elaborate on it. She and Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the city’s director of the Department of Health, both urged krewes to follow such rules during and leading up to Carnival season.

The current mitigation measures, including the proof-of-vaccine rule in some businesses and the mask mandate, will likely still be in place by Mardi Gras, Cantrell said.

Last November, Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced that Mardi Gras 2021 wouldn’t be “canceled, just different.” Parades weren’t allowed to roll, and officials made a last-minute decision last February to close bars and streets typically busy with revelers during Carnival season, like Bourbon Street.

As the city emerges from a deadly fourth surge that put Louisiana on the map — again — as a coronavirus hotspot, New Orleans officials are beginning to allow some fall events to come back, though they’ve cautioned residents to “stay vigilant” and continue following the current restrictions in place.

Cantrell made the decision earlier this month to allow Krewe of Boo to roll on Oct. 23. The Halloween-themed parade will be the first official parade to roll in the city in 19 months. The mayor’s administration will be using the parade to test how feasible hosting a parade inside the city is without the festivities becoming a superspreader event.

“We are going to do our own surveillance of the parade, meaning that before, during and after we are going to survey float riders, parade elements,” said Avegno. “We’ll be in the crowd asking folks to let us monitor them over the next few weeks.”

Avegno said her department is researching events like Lollapalooza, Sturgis Bike Week and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to find the safest way to host a large event.

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