Mardi Gras COVID-19 recommendations include limiting alcohol consumption and stationary floats
NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The upcoming Carnival season will look extremely different than years past because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Thursday night, Nov. 5, members of the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council started to lay our recommendations about what next year’s Carnival season could look like.
“Our committee recognizes in the absences of an available and effective vaccine there is simply no way for us to limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading during Mardi Gras,” said Dr. TaKeisha Davis of Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatal and part of the council’s subcommittee on safety comprised of doctors from various krewes. “That means we cannot reduce the risk down to zero.”
Davis suggests krewes prepare to roll with fewer riders on floats. For Kim Mercadel, the captain of the Crescent City Truck Parade, that could be a financial breaking point.
“When you have a truck that’s 40 feet long and you have a 6-foot social distancing on that truck, that means only 12 people are riders per truck,” Mercadel explains. “That monetarily I think is going to be too big of a burden for the truck riders to ride.”
The safety subcommittee suggests revelers stay without their Phase 3 crew and if a vaccine is viable and available people should take it. Parade crowds would also become a factor. The group says one way to limit them, might be to limit alcohol consumption and cooking near parade routes.
“We know the Mardi Gras that we know and love. We are usually congregating,” Dr. Davis said. “We are usually cooking on neutral grounds, inviting people in that are just walking on the parade route. Those are things that we are saying, ‘if Mardi Gras continues to proceed,’ we recommend against.”
Both the committee and Mayor LaToya Cantrell suggest krewes get creative and find new ways to celebrate.
“Trying to come up with alternative ways to do what you do and what you love to do within the guidelines and constraints,” Cantrell said.
Some of the ideas the mayor presented to the council include televising parades, krewes partnering up with restaurants, park floats and allow timed groups of people to walk by it.
“We want to observe religious, culture, and social traditions in a new way,” Cantrell said, “You will have a say, in what it looks like, you have to, you’re Mardi Gras.”
Meanwhile, Mercadel says instead of handling up to 65 registered trucks. As of now, she barely has 20 willing to roll.
“Monetarily, I just don’t think that either the krewes or us, as an organization, can afford to move forward,” she said. “I’m going to leave it up to my riders.”
The group’s co-chair, James Reiss, charges the group to brainstorm ideas in the next 30 days to present it to Mayor Cantrell.
“As individual krewes, think through those recommendations that Dr. Davis and her team made, can you financially, as an individual krewe, bear the burden of having only half the people you normally have on your float?” Some people may say yes, some krewes may say no," Reiss said. “If the answer is ‘no’ then you shouldn’t be putting a parade on the street.”
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