Home Travel Mayor of Popular Tourist City Considering Covid Vaccine Mandate For Entry

Mayor of Popular Tourist City Considering Covid Vaccine Mandate For Entry

by SharonKurheg

Cases of Covid are, happily, currently on their way down. The main reason for this is simple – people are getting vaccinated! As of this writing, 57% of the U.S. population is vaccinated. 67% of those aged 12 and up are vaccinated. 84% of those 65 and up are vaccinated. And as soon as the FDA approves Covid vaccines for them, kids age 5 to 11 can start getting vaccinated, too.

Unfortunately, there’s still a ways to go. There are those who are still vaccine paranoid. And, of course, most importantly, those who are at most risk – who can’t be vaccinated because of their medical history, or whose immune systems keeps them at risk despite getting their Covid vaccines (i.e. Colin Powell, may he rest in peace), need to be protected.

Mardi Gras happened in February 2020, about a month after the virus was starting to swell in the U.S. It spawned up to 50,000 cases of Covid, most likely from a single source.

Not surprisingly, Mardi Gras was canceled in New Orleans in 2021.

But again, right now, things are looking better. The city is averaging about 35 new cases per day – it was 127 this past February. So NOLA Mayor LaToya Cantrell is doing her best to make Mardi Gras happen in 2022. But she’s made it clear she’s considering several health measures so that if the parties happen next year, they’ll be as safe as possible.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure that Carnival happens,” the mayor said at a meeting of the Mardi Gras Advisory Committee. She did warn them that she intends to see that New Orleans “moves forward without any regrets at all.”

That would involve several measures to help ensure safety for both visitors and residents. She’s currently considering:

  • Visitors arriving by air be vaccinated against Covid, or test negative for it before taking part in local festivities (the airport would be involved to ensure that passengers landing at Armstrong in the two weeks before Mardi Gras and those leaving shortly afterward are free of the virus).
  • Post-Mardi Gras restrictions on local residents to contain the spread, such as a requirement that people avoid large crowds from Ash Wednesday until Easter.

“We have seen this at play over the past year in other cities and countries with these types of mandates,” Cantrell said during the meeting. “There are multiple models that we will look at to determine what is best suited for Mardi Gras.”

Mardi Gras 2022 falls on March 1.

The Times-Picayune reports it’s not clear whether the mayor could, or would, require a vaccine mandate for visitors, but she’s definitely floating the idea.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit New Orleans for the celebration. Hotels, restaurants and streets for parades and parties are packed with people. And while many arrive through the airport, others drive in. However with vaccine rules in place for bars, restaurants and other venues, it’s likely that a vaccine or negative test will be needed to participate in many aspects of the celebration, regardless of how visitors enter the city.

Parades in New Orleans are approved via a permit process. To help in her decisions for Mardi Gras parades, Cantrell is doing a test case during the Halloween season. She’s allowing one parade, for the Krewe of Boo, to roll on October 23rd, to see how things go.

Participants for that parade must be vaccinated or provide a negative Covid test. City health officials will also be in the crowd two hours before and two hours after that parade, sampling spectators’ contact information to check on their health in the following weeks. If the people sampled have a high level of Covid, Cantrell knows she’ll have to consider stricter rules for Mardi Gras. Her goal is a test positivity rate below 5% and a low average daily number of cases.

Fingers crossed!

Festure Image: pixabay

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2 comments

Brian L. October 19, 2021 - 2:06 pm

I doubt she’s legally able to require people who enter the city to be vaccinated. Even Hawaii never tried that (HI lets unvaccinated people in, but makes them quarantine). Even if it were legally possible, it would be a political and PR mess that no one would really benefit from (except lawyers & political talking heads on TV).

As you note, NO restaurants & bars have vaccine requirements, so you’d have to figure most people who would be coming for Mardi Gras are going to be vaccinated anyway (nobody’s going to go to NO & get Uber Eats to their hotel room every night).

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John Brissette October 19, 2021 - 5:07 pm

I dont know how she would pull that off. MSY is the major airport for most of the state (no one really flies into Lake Charles to Shreveport). While the City of New Orleans technically does own the airport it is actually within the city limits of Kenner, La. It would be a legal mess. As one poster said even Hi wasnt able to pull it off (they added a quarantine feature). In this case the logistics of sorting out who was going to NOLA and who was going say home to Lafayette would likely snarl airport traffic as never before seen. I dont see Cantrell garnering much support from neighboring mayors as MANY MANY are actually in the anti-vax/”covid is a haox” camp. My thinking is if you know you have to be vaxxed to enter our restaurants or bars and our riders are vaxxed as are their guests at balls etc, a good number of folks will be vaxxed. That said given the large number of folks who drive in regionally (even from neighboring parishes with low vax rates) and stay for the day and leave or stay in an Air BNB its going to be a struggle. We can secure the riders, et al. but there is no way to secure the crowd. That is what the mayor is looking to do with this. But I cant imagine her pulling it off. As far as going into lockdown post Mardi Gras would further push the issue she has been having of being seen as kowtowing to tourists only and sacrificing the livability of the city for tourism. One thing I can tell you as a local is this, LaToya is famous for shooting from the hip with remarks and then walking them back under intense pressure (look up the New Orleans trash parade).

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