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Maskless mayor met with criticism after reimposing mandates

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell sings karaoke at the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball at Gallier Hall...
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell sings karaoke at the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball at Gallier Hall on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. (Video screenshot/Shutters & Shoots Photobooth)(Fox News)
Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 4:27 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Photos and videos emerged over the weekend showing New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and guests partying with no masks on during the Mayor’s Ball at Gallier Hall on Friday.

The images were met with great criticism, considering Cantrell recently reinstated indoor masking through Mardi Gras.

According to Fox News, over 100 short videos taken at the ball were posted online before being deleted Monday morning.

The videos were taken by a 360-degree photo booth and showed Cantrell singing karaoke maskless with two other maskless women.

No other guests in any of the videos taken were wearing masks, Fox reports, despite the indoor mask mandate being in place until after March 1.

“Under the current guidelines, masks may be removed indoors while eating and drinking,” city spokesperson Beau Tidwell said in a statement. “While we did not see perfect adoption of the guidelines in every instance over the weekend, we were encouraged overall by the level of masking and vigilance we saw on the parade route and at ball events.”

New Orleans CAO Gilbert Montano attended the ball and responded at a press conference Monday.

“I absolutely don’t disagree that it’s an important mandate that we are trying to move forward, but the fact that there was also a [vaccine] checkpoint and food on every one of the floors, as well as drink, does speak to maybe some of those photos,” he said. “And frankly, some of the pictures you see, it’s hard to smile with your mask on, but I don’t want it to seem like the mayor doesn’t have it as a priority.”

Earlier this month, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied requests for a temporary restraining order and an expedited hearing on a lawsuit challenging the rules.

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More than 100 plaintiffs opposed to the mandates sued Cantrell, the New Orleans Health Department, and that agency’s leader Dr. Jennifer Avegno, accusing them of violating their constitutional rights with restrictions the officials say have curbed the spread of coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it spawns.

“We are happy to see the people of New Orleans finally able to return to normal and enjoy the Mardi Gras season,” Laura Cannizzaro Rodrigue, a partner at the New Orleans-based firm Rodrigue & Arcuri, said in a statement. “That is exactly what we have been advocating for. We are furious to see our so-called city leaders violating their own mask mandate all through the carnival season while demanding that ordinary citizens and children remain masked. The hypocrisy and privilege will no longer be tolerated. The silence from our state legislature is deafening. We see you, and we are coming for you.”

The lawsuit still could be rendered moot if the city were to drop the mandates March 2, the day after Fat Tuesday and the day before the scheduled court hearing.

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