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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — One of Louisiana’s congressmen won’t be attending the Washington Mardi Gras festivities put on by the state’s congressional delegation early next year.

The Advocate reports that Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, who represents south-central and southwest Louisiana, said he’s skipping the event because of the COVID-19 screening required of all attendees.

″I oppose all such oppressive mandates, and I am stunned that the Mystick Krewe has apparently determined that free Americans are unable to be trusted with their own medical decisions,″ Higgins wrote his colleagues.

The Mystick Krewe of Louisianians hosts the Jan. 27-29 event at the Washington Hilton Hotel. A Jan. 29 ball caps Washington Mardi Gras.

Even though Higgins won’t attend, he said his staff would handle arrangements for those from his 3rd Congressional District who want to participate, according to the newspaper.

Washington, D.C., requires inoculation proof to enter bars, restaurants, concerts and other events. The Mystic Krewe also sought the advice of Ochsner Health System in Jefferson when deciding its coronavirus protocols.

Washington Mardi Gras attendees are expected to provide proof of vaccination upon check-in at their hotel, or those who are unvaccinated will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test no earlier than Jan. 24. Ticketholders who object to the requirements have until Dec. 3 to opt out of the event and have their payments credited.

Now in its 73rd year, Washington Mardi Gras has become a prominent destination for Louisiana and Washington politicians, lobbyists and other officials. Thousands of people attend the various events. Last year’s festivities were canceled because of the pandemic.