Holidays in the era of COVID-19

The second wave of COVID-19 came with an increase in death and hospitalizations, ripping apart a divided nation that was already scrambling to sweep away the rubble. Government officials have enacted color-coded restrictions to disable the rapid pace of the pandemic spreading. This of course, unfortunately means that festive annual celebrations, that generally attract large crowds, are at risk of being cancelled. Amongst them are Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and even Mardi Gras, which will take place in the year 2021. 

The first sign of how COVID-19-restricted holidays will be conducted was initially experienced during Thanksgiving weekend. The iconic Macy’s Day Parade, which has aired in New York City since 1924, was entirely virtual and aired as a TV-only event. The customary crowds that are always pictured on television, basking in the delight of seeing the festivities first-hand, were notably absent this year, in an effort to abide by social-distancing regulations. Even the trademark balloons were not flown by human handlers, but instead were flown by special vehicles in order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. 

The New York Times (NYT) recently reported that New Orleans, Louisiana, will not be hosting their annual Mardi Gras festivities in 2021. Daniel Victor, a London-based reporter for the New York Times, stated that “The city has solicited ideas for how to safely celebrate under the current coronavirus restrictions, but the typically joyous colorful affairs that attract seas of tourists will not go on as usual”. New Orleans city officials made sure to respect the religious observations that transpire on Mardi Gras while abiding by the regulations. In a statement, it was said that “Mardi Gras… was not being canceled; there were still likely to be smaller events planned. But they would bear little resemblance to the enthusiastic bacchanals long associated with the city.” The New York Times added that although the festivities would be drastically different next year, staples of the culture’s celebrations, such as the flock to Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street for late-night parties, is still set to take place, albeit with capacity restrictions and other existing COVID-19 precautions that may exist at the time. 

However, statistics from the Mardi Gras 2020 celebrations exhibit signs that Bourbon Street is a “hot spot for the virus”, as reported by The New York Times. Dr. F. Brobson Lutz Jr., a former health director of New Orleans and a specialist in infectious disease, was quoted saying that it was “a perfect incubator at the perfect time.”

Although it is essential to take precautions by planning these types of events ahead of time, the bitter truth is that there is only so much that can be done to keep the peace. Efforts to control what has not yet transpired are arguably useless, although there is some use in preparing for any type of situation. Authorities urge all citizens to wear a mask in public, remain six feet apart from each other, and to get tested for the virus immediately upon exhibiting symptoms.

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