The city of New Orleans is cracking down on its safety protocols for bars and restaurants to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent crowds ahead of Mardi Gras weekend.
On Friday, the city announced the closure of all indoor and outdoor bars and the banning of to-go drinks starting Feb. 12 through Mardi Gras Day on Feb. 16.
The order also states that there will be no package liquor sales in the French Quarter and that all bars operating as restaurants will be closed.
Popular streets, including Bourbon Street, Frenchman Street and Decatur Street, will also be closed to pedestrians and vehicles after 7 p.m. local time.
"We're doing this in response to the health crisis that we are in. There are consequences of not taking action, the costs are simply too high," New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement.
"There are three new COVID strains out there which will have an impact on our city. We have to mitigate this virus the best way we can. It requires all of us doing the right thing," she added.
In a news conference on Friday announcing the restrictions, Cantrell called the large crowds seen on Bourbon Street last weekend "unacceptable."
"Any mass gatherings have the potential of creating and being a superspreader in our community. This is dangerous and it risks lives and it risks the progress our city has made in stopping the spread of COVID-19," she said.
In November, Cantrell announced that all Mardi Gras parades would be canceled as "large gatherings have proven to be super spreader events" of the novel coronavirus.
Louisiana was an early hotspot for the virus last spring, and a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April indicated that Mardi Gras was likely a major contributing factor.
This will be the first time in over 40 years that the streets of New Orleans will not host a series of Mardi Gras parades leading up to Fat Tuesday.
As of Saturday, there have been more than 26.8 million reported cases and 459,361 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to The New York Times. In Louisiana, there have been at least 409,861 cases and 9,076 deaths.
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