‘All options on the table’ to control large Mardi Gras crowds, officials say

Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 5:30 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - City of New Orleans officials are warning tourists that Mardi Gras will be different this year.

Beau Tidwell, city spokesman, says New Orleans remains in an unsafe environment regarding large gatherings due to COVID-19 and several new strains. Officials say they are still working on a plan to limit large crowds during Carnival, and several options are on the table.

“Mardi Gras is different this year. It’s unsafe for any large gatherings especially with a new variance around,” said Tidwell.

Over the weekend, large crowds gathered on Bourbon Street, causing health experts to warn of possible super spreader events.

“We’re going to have to be more vocal on restrictions and they’re going to have to be more enforcement on the business side,” said health educator Eric Griggs, M.D.

But with Airbnb’s and some hotel rooms booking up, the city says a plan to control carnival crowds, is still being developed.

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“Chief Ferguson and the public safety team are actively working on their operations plan and what it is going to look like for Fat Tuesday itself and for the days leading up to it,” said Tidwell.

Tidwell was asked specifically about whether or not there might be limits on takeout drinks or possible street closures. He said plans are still being worked out.

“I will say all options are on the table and that is certainly something that’s being discussed,” he said.

While plans are still in the works, the city spokesman says visitors are expected to abide by the rules.

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“It’s important to bear in mind that as you talk about large gatherings during a time of contagious disease,’ that means more people in the hospital,” said Tidwell.

By Sunday night in New Orleans, police officers were seen monitoring crowd sizes on Bourbon Street, which could be a key element in the carnival crowd control plan moving forward.

However, in a city that’s limiting outdoor gatherings to just 25 people, there is still no announced plan to keep hundreds, if not thousands of people from crowding onto Bourbon Street as they do every Fat Tuesday, and the days leading up to it.

“I’m not able to give you operational details as to what Fat Tuesday will look like right now because Chief Ferguson is still working that out,” said Tidwell, who adds they will be revealing details about the carnival crowd control plan in the days ahead.

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