“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 Beau Tidwell, communications director for Mayor LaToya Cantrell, during a Tuesday press conference.
Mardi Gras, to be celebrated on February 16, 2021, is a religious holiday, and therefore cannot be canceled, according to the city’s website.
However, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the city, with the number of new cases approaching critical levels, the city is imposing some restrictions — notably, canceling parades in an effort to prevent a super spreader event.
“There’s no way that that’s responsible given what we know about the pandemic right now,” Tidwell said.
“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.”
Though the city will still allow visitors — with both Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street remaining open — the city still requires everyone to wear masks in public and maintain social distancing. “It is highly recommended that time in the city’s entertainment districts be limited and social distancing observed with mask wearing,” the mayor’s website states.
The mayor’s office is taking suggestions from residents on how to hold the carnival in a safe way.
The loss of parades means nonprofits such as The Roots of Music, which depend on the parades for revenue, may struggle. Roots executive director Suzanne Raether said the organization will miss out on about $60,000 in funding.
“While it will have a dramatic impact on our finances, The Roots of Music fully supports our City’s decision to cancel Mardi Gras parades in 2021,” Raether said in a statement.
The news comes as Covid-19 cases continue to surge across the country, with record numbers of hospitalizations and daily cases. Many states are issuing a new wave of mask mandates and other restrictions in an attempt to fend off the virus, with some places discouraging holiday festivities as well.