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Ahead of Mardi Gras 2022, New Orleans officials to step up safety measures

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Courtesy of Mayor LaToya Cantrell's Facebook page
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Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other city leaders held a press conference to discuss safety during Mardi Gras 2022 on Feb. 14, 2022.

As New Orleans heads into the busiest weekend of the Mardi Gras season, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city is “ready and prepared” — but is also stepping up safety and public health measures to deal with expected throngs of party-goers descending on the city during year three of the pandemic.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Cantrell and other city leaders outlined several key changes to this year’s Carnival celebrations:

Law enforcement will be ‘all hands on deck’. The New Orleans Police Department has transitioned to 12-hour shifts to provide more police coverage. Sheriff departments from around the state are also helping provide manpower and resources for the parades. NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson also recommended people use ride-sharing to get around during parades. He added: “Please leave your weapons at home.”

SEAR 2 Designation. Similar to the 2020 Carnival celebrations, this year’s Mardi Gras has been designated a SEAR 2 event by the federal government, which will provide extensive federal support and inter-agency cooperation during the next few weeks. From the Coast Guard to the FBI, the city will work with different federal law enforcement agencies to coordinate security.

Remain vigilant about COVID-19. Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of New Orleans Health Department, said the city will continue to encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted, and recommended testing before going out into the crowds or parties. Rapid testing will be available for people arriving at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. First-aid stations will be set up along the parade routes to keep people from over-utilizing the emergency rooms at local hospitals.

New parade safety measures. Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP), said there will be bright orange barriers installed between tandem floats on parades to prevent people from trying to cross. Two years ago, two people died in separate incidents when they tried to pass between moving tandem floats. In addition to the shortened parade routes this year, NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said that the area blocked off to cars in the French Quarter will also be smaller this year.

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