Crowds enjoy New Orleans French Quarter ahead of Mardi Gras pandemic restrictions


NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Tighter COVID-19 restrictions went into effect in the New Orleans French Quarter Friday. No cars will be allowed in and no pedestrians through Mardi Gras — also known as Fat Tuesday — on Feb. 16.

Thursday night, businesses took full advantage of the final moments while they could. Hundreds of people grabbed to-go drinks and were sightseeing along Bourbon Street.

“It is completely different. It’s dead compared to what it normally is, but still, we’re going to have fun,” said Kym Phillips from Arkansas.

Nearly every year since 1968, Phillips and her family have visited for Mardi Gras. While exploring, Phillips and her husband are masked up and plan to keep safety in mind.

“Gotta make the most of it,” Phillips said. “You gotta live and you’ve gotta still have fun.”

Businesses in the French Quarter are hoping to cash-in on those wanting a taste of Carnival.

“Everybody is making this like Fat Thursday,” said John Kaenipp who works at Local 718 bar. “There’s more people out here than there have been in the last week.”

Friday, bars are closed, to-go drinks will be banned and there will be no package liquor sales in the French Quarter. No cars or people will be allowed in the Quarter either.

“People are going out of business, people are not making any money, people can’t do anything they want to do,” Kaenipp said. “As long as we can be out here, we will try to do the best we can.”

The city is hopeful the mitigation measure in place will keep Mardi Gras 2021 from becoming another super spreader event. Throughout Bourbon Street, there are reminders for people to mask up or lockdown.

One visitor had this recommendation while laughing, “Just bring your own booze.”

If you have plans to go to any restaurants, shops or hotels in the French Quarter, they’ll still be open. Be prepared for road closures in the area and amped-up security to discourage large crowds from gathering.

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