By Paradise Afshar and Forrest Brown, CNN
Think of it as laissez les bons temps rouler — but with precautions.
New Orleans will reinstate its indoor mask mandate starting Wednesday morning to address rising Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations in the city.
This is something visitors as well as residents will want to keep in mind as the city begins its Carnival season.
The mandate, which begins at 6 a.m. Wednesday, applies to all indoor spaces, including schools, and is expected to remain in place “until further notice,” Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the director of the New Orleans Health Department, said during a news conference on Tuesday.
“We strongly recommend a high-quality mask, and by that, I mean a surgical mask, KN95 or N95, to provide the most robust protection,” Avegno said.
With Carnival season gearing up, Avegno said New Orleans is “at risk in a way that no other big city is.”
New Orleans currently has a positivity rate of just under 32% and is awaiting the shipment of additional tests for residents.
“This is a simple step, putting masks back on to tackle our biggest problem,” Avegno said.
It’s not just masks — New Orleans has joined other major tourist destinations in the United States that are imposing other pandemic safety measures.
Anyone 5 or older must have proof of at least one vaccine shot — or a negative result from a Covid-19 test taken within the past 72 hours — to enter many indoor venues that appeal to tourists. These include:
• Restaurants, bars and breweries
• Gyms and indoor fitness centers
• Sports complexes
• Concert and music halls
• Event spaces such as hotel ballrooms
• Pool halls, bowling alleys and arcades
Beginning on February 1, two doses of vaccine will be required for indoor venues. Get important details at ready.nola.gov.
Muted, creative celebrations in 2021
Every year in New Orleans, Carnival season culminates in Mardi Gras, which is on Tuesday, March 1, this year.
In 2021, the city was forced to tamp down Mardi Gras celebrations because of the pandemic.
There were no parades, limited gatherings and shuttered bars. A normally raucous Bourbon Street was almost devoid of people.
The undeniable creative spirit of the city rallied, though. Last year, more than 3,000 homes were decorated to the hilt to take the places of parade floats.
Doug MacCash, who chronicled the house float movement for the local newspaper, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, said the house floats had “such a spirit of triumph, such a spirit of defiance. It’s like, ‘Sorry, ‘rona. We’re not just giving up.'”
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CNN’s Marnie Hunter and Michelle Krupa contributed to this article from previous reporting.