New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has announced that there will be no parades for the upcoming Mardi Gras holiday as means of reducing the spread of the coronavirus.
Cantrell addressed the inquisition posted on the city's website under the Mardi Gras 2021 section asking if there would be parades in the city this year, saying, "Parades of any kind will not be permitted this year because large gatherings have proven to be super spreader events of the COVID-19 virus."
"Based on the state guidelines in place right now, that is true," said Cantrell of the prohibition on parades. "The guidelines have to be followed as it relates to Mardi Gras 2021."
Some local krewes who had been in discussions with the mayor's office about Mardi Gras in 2021 were surprised to hear Cantrell's announcement.
"It's a total shock at this moment," said president of the Krewe of Endymion, Dan Kelly. "Hopefully it's a mistake, because it means a lot to the city and it means a lot to the people of New Orleans."
Elroy James, president of Zulu, said that in the age of coronavirus, the idea that parades might not happen should not be a shock.
City Hall has issued a request for community input, and Cantrell is seeking ways to prevent "unstructured crowds of strangers."
The announcement said that "experts are predicting a winter spike in cases in December and January – right when our Carnival calendars get rolling," meaning that conducting Carnival 2021 may be complicated.