Mardi Gras 2022 New Orleans COVID Safety Precautions
New Orleans is heading into the busiest final weekends of the Mardi Gras season, and officials expect challenges as thousands of visitors descend on the city for celebrations amid the pandemic.
City officials said they are working with federal, state and local agencies to bolster law enforcement presence and emergency medical services over the next two weeks.
Mardi Gras day is March 1, but is celebrated for weeks in advance with parades, parties, and other events. The two weekends before Mardi Gras Day are among the busiest in the city and a time when emergency and first responder resources are in greatest demand.
This year marks the return of parades, after large Mardi Gras gatherings and parades were canceled last year due to the pandemic. Mardi Gras celebrations likely contributed to the first wave of COVID-19 cases in the New Orleans area beginning in March 2020.
At a press conference on Monday, officials discussed the multiple concerns they will face as celebrations come to a head from this weekend.
Police, shortage of medical personnel
COVID-19 has caused widespread staffing shortages in several city departments, including the New Orleans Police Department and New Orleans Emergency Medical Services. To enhance public safety during the busiest weeks of Mardi Gras, the city has received a SEAR 2 event designation, which will provide federal support and coordination.
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Mardi Gras 2020 was the first year New Orleans received a SEAR 2 designation, New Orleans Homeland Security Director Collin Arnold said.
“Before 2020, it was more about communicating what exactly Mardi Gras is. There may have been some confusion in the past about how many people attended and how long the event was. At one point , it was considered that Mardi Gras was just Shrove Tuesday, which it is not,” he said.
The New Orleans Police Department will transition to 12-hour shifts until March 2 to provide greater police coverage in the French Quarter and along parade routes.
“It will allow us to move our resources,” NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said. “We don’t foresee any challenges.”
Officials must also deal with the continued demands on the health system due to COVID-19.
During the press conference, New Orleans Chief Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Avegno said COVID-19 cases have declined in Orleans Parish, averaging about 139 cases per year. day. The city currently has a positivity rate of around 6%.
COVID Precautions in New Orleans
Anyone over the age of five must show proof of full vaccination or a negative PCR test to enter restaurants, bars or other venues in New Orleans. A mask mandate for all indoor public spaces is in effect through Mardi Gras Day.
Avegno said the health department has partnered with the National Guard to coordinate testing and vaccination sites for the next two weeks, excluding Feb. 28 and March 1.
Plans to set up a testing site at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport for travelers are also being discussed.
First aid tents will be set up at five locations along the parade route. Officials advised parade goers to visit one of the first aid tents for any minor medical needs and to reduce pressure on emergency medical care.
“Please don’t abuse our emergency medical services. Every year they are busier than at any other time and now we have COVID-19 on top of that,” he said. she stated.
For updates on parades, weather and public safety, residents and tourists can text “mardigras” to 77295.
The return of Mardi Gras celebrations is an important milestone for the city as the third year of the pandemic begins.
According to an informal survey conducted by New Orleans & Company, the city’s tourism marketing agency, hotel occupancy is expected to exceed 80% in the French Quarter and downtown New Orleans over the past Mardi Gras weekend.
“We are not quite back to normal (pre-pandemic) Mardi Gras hotel occupancy, but these numbers represent a much-needed boost to our economy, our businesses and everyone who makes a living in the Mardi Gras. cultural economy,” Kelly said. Schulz, the senior vice president of communications for New Orleans & Co.
Maria Clark is a generalist reporter for The American South. Ideas for articles, advice, questions? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @MariaPClark1. Sign up for the American South newsletter. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.