NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Visible signs of the carnival shut down are now being spotted across the city. Bars will close Friday as the hospitality industry deals with occupancy some 70% below normal.
It seems most tourists will be staying home.
“Why bother, there’s no point, it’s not going to be the same,” said Irene Dennis, from Canada.
The city has now fenced off most of N. Claiborne Avenue, where hundreds of locals would gather for carnival, and hotel rooms won’t be at their normal occupancy for the festivities.
“I don’t know if there’s been a drop-off but the latest numbers are projecting 37% on Friday, 41% on Saturday, and somewhere around 30% Sunday through Tuesday,” said city spokesman Beau Tidwell.
Each block of Bourbon Street will be barricaded. No bars will be open in the French Quarter. Diners may come, but they will be vetted by police officers on duty.
“If you’re working or going to a restaurant, police will stop you and check which restaurant you’re going to and you will go to that restaurant,” Tidwell says.
Tourism officials want to remind locals there are still ways to celebrate.
“Get some king cake and you can watch different online events through Fat Tuesday,” said Kelly Schulz with New Orleans & Company.
Dennis, who visits New Orleans three times a year, is going home.
“This year, Mardi Gras was going to be on my birthday, but now we can’t come,” she said.
Tourism leaders look for better days ahead, as vaccinations pick up and the coronavirus hopefully subsides.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for people to come to New Orleans. People are ready to have reunions and meetings,” said Schulz.
The city has so far shut down seven bars for not following social distancing guidelines. Those bars will not be allowed to resume operation until they submit a safe reopening plan.
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