NEW ORLEANS - Ahead of Mardi Gras this year, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced on Friday that all bars, both indoor and outdoor, will be closed citywide to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
Major streets that typically see the highest quantity of festivities surrounding the French Quarter will be filled with checkpoints, according to city officials. Anyone entering popular streets like Bourbon Street, Frenchman Street and Decatur Street who isn’t a resident or business owner will be prohibited from entering, according to a news release from the city.
Stepped-up crowd control begins this weekend, Cantrell said. The bar shutdown begins next Friday and runs through Mardi Gras — also known as Fat Tuesday — on Feb. 16.
"To those that are upset about these restrictions, know that when it comes to the health of our people, I’d rather be accused of doing too much than not enough," Cantrell wrote on Twitter following the a city news conference on Friday.
The city's famous parades have already been canceled. The bar restrictions also prevent sales of to-go drinks, packaged liquor sales, street vendors and performers.
Cantrell and other city officials at Friday's news conference said businesses that violate the rules face on-the-spot shutdowns and loss of licenses.
And they warned visitors to the city during what is one of the biggest tourism times of the year to adhere to safety precautions.
"If by chance you have an aversion to wearing a mask, stay where you're at," said city council member Jay Banks, who said he knows 23 people who have died of COVID-19. "if your expectation is the Mardi Gras of the past, don’t waste your money."
To replace the absence of the city’s iconic parades, thousands of New Orleans houses are being decorated as floats.
Other pandemic activity replacements include scavenger hunts for signature trinkets that normally would be thrown from floats or handed out from a streetcar, as well as outdoor art and drive-thru or virtual parades.
The prominent Krewe of Bacchus has an app where people can catch and trade virtual trinkets during Carnival and watch a virtual parade Feb. 14, when the original parade had been scheduled.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.