NOPD, law enforcement agencies prepare for Mardi Gras weekend

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NEW ORLEANS — The clock is ticking for businesses in the French Quarter. Starting Friday night, Bourbon and surrounding streets will be blocked off, bars will be closed and hundreds of officers will be on patrol.

“After the crowds that we saw last weekend on Bourbon Street, I believe that it was very important that we had a more targeted, more intentional approach with regards to dispersing and addressing large crowd gatherings,” said New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Shaun Ferguson.

NOPD, Orleans Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police are working together to ensure covid-19 restrictions are followed in New Orleans.

“With these additional resources that we have, we will be able to flex not just through the French Quarter, but throughout this entire city, wherever there may be a large gathering,” said Ferguson.

With Bourbon Street blocked off, businesses are worried they won’t survive after this weekend.

“It’s scary when you wait for Mardi Gras all year to help you pay your bills and it’s cancelled. In my estimation, 10 to 15 percent of businesses that were in business will close after Mardi Gras,” said Brian Mullin, owner of Local 718 bar and restaurant.

Other French Quarter workers say without the steady flow of customers, the local economy will struggle.

“It’s like a drought, it’s like you go to fish and all of the sudden….there’s no more fish in the pond,” said John Kneipp who works on Bourbon Street.

City leaders say these restrictions need to be enforced in order to save lives.

“I think this four-to-five day sacrifice is nothing. It’s very small compared to a larger sacrifice we may endure later,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson is asking anyone who sees something this weekend to say something. If you see a large crowd, you can call 3-1-1 to report it. Ferguson said there will be about 1,100 officers patrolling the entire city.

Those who disobey the covid guidelines could get a $500 fine or get arrested. City leaders are urging everyone to celebrate this Mardi Gras at home, and to stay off of the streets.

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