At a time of year when the city usually becomes most alive, this year for Mardi Gras, New Orleans will shut down its bar scene — including takeout — to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Last week, Mayor Latoya Cantrell issued a new Mardi Gras lockdown for the city, which will run from 6 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 until 6 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17. In addition to the complete closure of bars during this period, no establishment (including restaurants) will be permitted to sell to-go alcoholic drinks.
Businesses that violate the rules could face on-the-spot shutdown or loss of licenses.
Even more restrictions are in place in the French Quarter, where the city typically celebrates. Packaged liquor sales will be closed during the Mardi Gras period in the area and pedestrians and vehicles will not be allowed on some of the most popular blocks from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m. each night, including parts of Bourbon and Frenchmen streets. No parking zones will also be in effect in the area.
Indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 25. Guests should wear masks and maintain social distance while meeting.
A few months ago, a spokesperson for the mayor said that Mardi Gras would not be canceled but that the celebrations would look "very different" for 2021.
Although celebrations will be much smaller this year with the cancelation of the parades, New Orleans has some creative alternatives. Homes around the city are dressed up as "house floats" and decked out with themes that reflect the spirit of the season. Locals can find a map of all the participating homes and walk around the city to celebrate while remaining safe.
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.
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