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New Orleans BANS PARADES for 2021 Mardi Gras but insists that annual event is only going to be ‘DIFFERENT, NOT CANCELED’

New Orleans BANS PARADES for 2021 Mardi Gras but insists that annual event is only going to be ‘DIFFERENT, NOT CANCELED’
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has banned parades for the 2021 Mardi Gras celebration in February because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the city is trying to salvage its biggest annual event and won’t call it “canceled.”

“Parades of any kind will not be permitted this year because large gatherings have proven to be super-spreader events of the Covid-19 virus,”Cantrell said on the city’s website. A message posted on Tuesday on the city’s Twitter account showed an illustration with the slogan, “Mardi Gras is different, not canceled.”

It’s unclear how Mardi Gras, which is much like Brazil’s Carnival festivals, will play out without its centerpiece: the iconic Fat Tuesday parades that help attract an estimated 1.4 million visitors annually. Dozens of parades are normally held in Orleans Parish alone, including carnival processions held in the days leading up to Mardi Gras, which falls on February 16 this year.

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Cantrell requested ideas for ways to safely celebrate this year’s Mardi Gras. The priority is to avoid creating “unstructured crowds of strangers,” which are just the sort of gatherings that normally occur in the chaotic celebrations each year.

New Orleans previously only canceled parades during the Civil War, civil unrest in 1875, World War I, World War II and a 1979 police strike. “With Covid-19 spreading, we need to modify carnival season so it’s safe for everyone,” the city said.

“That won’t go over well,” a Twitter account under the name Last American Vagabond said of the parade ban. “Get ready to see some protest parades in New Orleans.”

Some observers reacted bitterly, including one who tweeted: “What’s next Destroya? You gonna cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas, too? We will have to have turkey and open presents over FaceTime.” Others suggested that the decision could have waited. “Cantrell couldn’t come up with any ideas after making an extreme decision too early,” one commenter said.

But some Twitter users praised the move, saying they don’t believe the parade can be done safely amid rising cases of Covid-19. At least one went so far as to say Cantrell should cancel Mardi Gras altogether to avoid putting people at risk: “It’s ridiculous to host in a pandemic. Push back, mayor.”

Social clubs, called Krewes, will still be allowed to host their Mardi Gras balls, but they will be required to adhere to social-distancing guidelines, and the events will be invitation-only, meaning members of the public can’t attend, according to the city’s website. Krewes normally band together to build parade floats.

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The Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street entertainment districts in the city’s French Quarter will be open, but the partying will be constrained by Covid-19 restrictions, including restaurant and bar capacity limits, limitations to business hours, mandated mask-wearing and a six-foot distancing requirement. House parties will be subject to similar restrictions.

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