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Mardi Gras Celebrations Aren't Canceled in New Orleans ... Yet

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One of the most famous and popular ways to kick off the new year is to participate in Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, refers to events of the Carnival celebration. These events typically begin on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany and culminate on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is known as Shrove Tuesday. The largest Mardi Gras celebration typically takes place in New Orleans.

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In simpler terms, Mardi Gras is the party where you go wild before giving up something for the Lent season. For non-religious folks, Mardi Gras is typically just a really great excuse to party. So, with COVID-19 wreaking havoc in the United States, does it really make sense to have a giant party? Of course not. So, is the tradition of Mardi Gras canceled for 2021? The answer is: yes, but also no.

Mardi Gras parades and gatherings are canceled in New Orleans.

According to CNN, Mardi Gras parades will not be permitted in 2021 at New Orleans' annual festival. So while the parade is a no-go, city officials are saying the holiday is definitely not canceled altogether. 

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"I want to be very clear. Mardi Gras 2021 is not canceled. It is going to look different. The mayor has been very consistent about saying that at every stage," Beau Tidwell, communications director for Mayor LaToya Cantrell, told reporters during a press conference. Mardi Gras gets away with technically not being “canceled” because it is classified as a religious holiday, according to the city's website.

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Mardi Gras celebrations will operate with new restrictions put in place by the city of New Orleans.

With COVID-19 cases and hospitalization at record highs all over the United States, the city of New Orleans needed to be proactive in their planning for the 2021 year especially when it came to their most popular and tourist-driven holiday — Mardi Gras. With that, the city decided to impose new restrictions for Mardi Gras celebrations. Most notably is the cancellation of parades which could help prevent a super spreader event.

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"There's no way that that's responsible given what we know about the pandemic right now," Tidwell explained. "So while we certainly want to move forward and find ways that we can celebrate, and we can mark this occasion, we have to do it safely. We have ... 10 more deaths in the last two weeks. The positivity rate doubled in the last week."

Bourdon Street plans to remain open for Mardi Gras.

New Orleans assured the public that the city will still allow visitors and tourists, and the main attractions the city has to offer, including Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street, will remain open. However, the city still requires everyone to wear masks in public and maintain social distancing. 

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"It is highly recommended that time in the city's entertainment districts be limited and social distancing observed with mask wearing," the mayor's website states. The mayor's office is also looking for help from locals on how to hold the famous carnival in a safe way.

The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.

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