New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration confirmed today that the city’s policy requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for indoor entry at bars and restaurants will remain in place at least through Mardi Gras 2022, which falls next year on March 1, 2022.
New Orleans’s current mandate requires customers to show proof of vaccination or a negative antigen test to dine or drink inside restaurants, bars, and breweries, or to enter music venues, event spaces, strip clubs, and casinos. “That’s the way we are going to get through this safely,” city spokesperson Beau Tidwell said Tuesday of keeping the mandate in place through Mardi Gras. New Orleans was just the third U.S. city to issue vaccination requirements, after New York and San Francisco (though those mandates don’t allow for a negative COVID test as an alternative, as New Orleans’s does).
In early October, city officials announced that parades would roll in New Orleans for Halloween for the first time since 2020, saying that the city would use data collected from the Krewe of Boo parade to gauge impact on local COVID numbers. At the same time, Mayor Cantrell expressed optimism for an official Mardi Gras 2022, hinting at possible COVID rules for both krewes and tourists.
Tidwell said today that that preliminary data collected from Krewe of Boo last month showed that 93 percent of the crowd and 98 percent of float riders were vaccinated against COVID-19. “We had a large parade and we did it safely. That is very encouraging news, and we want to make sure those conditions maintain: the high levels of vaccinations in the crowd and on the floats and that the vaccine mandate remains in place,” said Tidwell.
The administration dropped New Orleans’s indoor mask mandate in late October ahead of Halloween weekend, a few days after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards dropped his statewide mask mandate. At the same time, the city adjusted its vaccination policy: a negative antigen test is now accepted for entry into businesses, as opposed to the negative PCR test required when the vaccine mandate was first issued in August.
While people will have to show proof of vaccination or the negative test to get inside a bar, restaurant, sporting event, concert, or ball during Mardi Gras (quite a burden on establishments during the tourist-heavy season) outdoor parades are set to roll without any such requirements. At a meeting last month, Cantrell reportedly hinted at the possibility of requiring vaccine proof or a negative COVID-19 test for visitors to the city during Mardi Gras, though it’s unclear how that would be executed and Tidwell did not mention the possibility Tuesday. Float riders and marching krewe members will be required to be vaccinated or have a negative COVID test to participate in parades, however.
New Orleans currently has a COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.6 percent and is averaging 25 new cases a day, Tidwell said Tuesday.