(Photo: Krewe of Chewbacchus | Infrogmation | CC)
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, the Star Wars-named krewe known for its walking parade, announced Monday that it will cancel its Mardi Gras festivities scheduled later for this month due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Chewbacchus replaced its 11th annual walking parade with a self-guided tour of stationary subkrewes. This year’s theme was “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and was scheduled to run on Jan. 23.
The cancellation comes after New Orleans moved into modified Phase One restrictions on Friday due to surging rates of the coronavirus, which was reported at 10.4% last week–up from 5.5% the prior week, according to local health officials.
The krewe was already planning for its scaled-back walking tour, which was announced on Dec. 7. Instead, a virtual costume contest will now replace the walking tour.
“With the recent decision by the city of New Orleans to move to modified Phase 1, the 2021 celebration and all subKrewe activities will be halted,” according to Chewbacchus. “We are trusting the science and directing all krewe members to suspend their planned celebrations”
Instead, the krewe will hold a virtual costume contest and asking its krewe members, and the public, to post photos of their Chewbacchus costumes on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #chewbacchusnewreality2021.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced on Jan. 6 that the city will enter modified Phase One restrictions due to the surging coronavirus rate.
The restrictions, which will last three weeks or until Jan. 29, include limiting indoor business capacity to 25%, gathering sizes to no greater than a single household. Bars are prohibited from serving customers indoors, although to-go drinks are still allowed and outdoor seating is still allowed from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. New Orleans bars, breweries and live entertainment venues were ordered closed by 11 p.m.. Dec. 30.
“We’ve always made decisions based on data, every step of the way,” Cantrell said during a Jan. 6 press conference, citing a “serious issue with community spread.” “We’ve always made decisions based on data, every step of the way.”
Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of New Orleans Health Department, said the city is averaging 200 new cases each day, indicating a major community outbreak with one in every person infected, on average.
“When you are with 10 other people, it is highly likely that one of them will have COVID-19,” Avegno said. “The more people who have it, the more will be hospitalized and more will die.”
New Orleans recorded a cumulative total of 23, 252 coronavirus infections and 689 deaths from the disease since the pandemic started in March, with an additional 380 new infections and two deaths reported Sunday.
City officials have released an vaccine distribution plan, with vaccinations of healthcare workers and nursing home residents beginning in December and essential workers likely up next this year.