NEW ORLEANS – As Mardi Gras nears, Mayor Cantrell and other city leaders came up with a strategy to discourage large gatherings. The plan will close down parts of the city starting this Friday at 7 p.m. and will last until 2 a.m. on Ash Wednesday. Closures include: Decatur Street between Dumaine and Toulouse, all of Bourbon will close between 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., Frenchman Street will be closed between the 500 and 600 blocks, and Claiborne Avenue between Orleans Avenue through Bernard Avenue will be fenced off.
“There will be officers staffing each intersection and making sure that people are not moving through, except if they’re a hotel guest or if they’re a resident or going to work on that street,” Beau Tidwell, the Director of Communication said.
While bars will be closed throughout much of The City, restaurants are allowed to remain open and sell liquor but they can’t sell to-go cups for the 5-day stint.
“We understand that there’s pain there,” Tidwell said. “We understand that there’s the loss of income there but that has to be weighed against what could still happen if we get a tremendous spike.”
While many residents are frustrated with guidelines, some say they understand this is necessary.
“I’m a little bummed. But also, at the same time, we need to stay safe and people are still celebrating with house floats and just chillin’ with their close friends,” Derrick Terry, a New Orleans resident told WGNO. “I think celebrating like that is completely cool.”
“It is not safe to observe Mardi Gras the way that we have before,” Tidwell said. “If you’re coming here anticipating it being like it always is, don’t come. That is the message.”