New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced on Friday that bars will be closed and major streets will have restricted access ahead of Mardi Gras events this year.
"I think we were all hopeful that we could strike the necessary balance of having a safe Mardi Gras and a fun Mardi Gras as well, but given these new variants, recent large crowds in the Quarter and the potential for even larger crowds this weekend and the weekend as we move into Mardi Gras, it has become very apparent that it is hard to do," the mayor said in a statement.
People will have to pass through checkpoints to access heavily trafficked areas like Bourbon street, and police will patrol the area thoroughly. Bourbon Street will close to pedestrians and vehicles after 7 p.m.
Restaurants will be allowed to remain open, but may not serve to-go cups. Beginning on February 12 and running through "Fat Tuesday" on February 16, retail liquor sales will be banned in the French Quarter, and any business not complying with the rules will be shut down "on the spot," officials say.
"I'd rather be accused of doing too much than doing too little," Cantrell said. "We understand the world will be watching."