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Dear Members and Colleagues,

Despite the restrictions announcement from the city today, be assured of one thing: the French Quarter is open as is the downtown area during the celebration of Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day. All of our restaurants are open, the hotels will be welcoming guests, and retailers will have all of your much desired things. And yes, you can mask, dress up in costume, and enjoy cocktails and wine in your favorite restaurant! 

Throughout the pandemic, New Orleans & Company, the hospitality industry and all of your companies have worked to ensure that we emerge from this challenging time as a destination with the highest commitment to safety protocols to keep New Orleans citizens, visitors and our workforce safe. It is unfortunate that young people, college students in particular, and many other area residents have not abided by the safety guidelines and held uncontrolled mask-less gatherings, leading to today’s highly problematic decision on enhanced restrictions by the mayor. What happened at a favorite bar of all of ours uptown and a separate incident on Bourbon Street have been well chronicled. Our own residents created a dilemma for government. It wasn’t the small number of responsible tourists we have been hosting or the majority of our citizens and businesses. We respectfully urge that city government re-examine their identification and quick response system relative to blatant public gathering violations and egregious unsafe behavior. 

Now we are concerned that many hospitality workers will be suffering lost wages and small businesses damaged once again at a time neither can afford it. And we worry that our brand will be impacted from awkward city messaging. But, this is where we are when locals do dumb things and compliance and quick response from the city is weak or nonexistent in real time. The truth is that New Orleans hotels and restaurants will are open and providing wonderful venues for residents and visitors to celebrate responsibly and safely during the beloved periods of Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day.

So where are we?

Today the City of New Orleans announced restrictions for Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 through Mardi Gras Day, Feb. 16, 2021, including:

  • All bars will be closed both indoor and outdoor citywide, including bars operating as restaurants with AR-Conditional permits
  • All sales of to-go drinks will be banned 
  • Bourbon St., Decatur St. and Frenchmen St. will be closed to pedestrians and vehicles from 7 p.m. - 3 a.m.
    • Restaurants and retail stores can remain open and residents and visitors will have access
  • There will be no loitering on Bourbon St. 
  • The Claiborne underpass and corridor will also be fenced off
  • Large gatherings are banned and will not be tolerated — including activities that encourage people to congregate, like street vending and performing

We support 100% the prevention of excessively large, unruly, unmasked, non-socially distanced crowds. We are truly sad, though, that responsible bars throughout the city cannot remain open and we feel deeply for the AR- Conditional permit bar/restaurants.

Some of the vehicular and pedestrian restrictions will be unmanageable. Where will hospitality workers park? Will they have to walk late at night to far away parking with their tip earnings? How do police at barricade points distinguish hotel/restaurant customers and workers from others they may wish to discourage. Will there be sufficient police to shut down bootleg street vendors selling alcohol as they have been allowed in recent weeks after 11:00 pm? We hope the city meets these challenges well.

Our company plans, and we hope you will as well, to proudly send the message that the French Quarter is open to responsible hotel guests as well as to visitors and locals who want to celebrate this magical holiday and Valentine’s Day safely in their favorite restaurants, hotels and retail shops throughout the French Quarter, downtown, and all around the city. Yes, bars will sadly be closed, street vendors prohibited as well as aggressive solicitations and buskers, and there will not be huge jostling crowds. Many locals will actually enjoy that as they head to their favorite FQ and downtown restaurants.

We encourage every New Orleanian to mask, dress in costume, make reservations and know you will be welcomed downtown and throughout the city in your favorite restaurants where you can celebrate the season in responsible, socially distanced style and relish the food that has made New Orleans famous. 

From the beginning of the pandemic, New Orleans & Company has stressed safety as paramount. For Mardi Gras 2021, we have promoted ways to celebrate Carnival season safely such as driving tours of house floats and Floats in the Oaks. We have shared ways to bring New Orleans culture to those around the world who plan to celebrate Mardi Gras from home. And we have worked tirelessly to ensure that our customers across multiple platforms know when they are ready to travel, we are ready to host and will professionally manage their visit with the highest safety protocols in place. 

The government’s messaging seems to imply we are closed. WE ARE NOT! We hate that we got to this point, but let’s make the best of it and enthusiastically support our restaurants, hotels and classic retail and shopping stores throughout the French Quarter and downtown and on Canal and Magazine and elsewhere in our city.

Make those restaurant reservations today if you haven’t already. Tell your friends and customers who planned to come in for a couple of days and stay in a hotel and enjoy the season that they should still come and may even have more fun than ever! Your team at New Orleans & Company will launch messaging over the next ten days geared to safety, responsible behavior and the fact that we are indeed open and we will celebrate the season New Orleans style in our favorite hotels and restaurants and incredible retail stores. Socially distanced and with strong safety protocols.

We are with you every step of the way.


Stephen Perry
President and CEO
New Orleans & Company

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