METAIRIE, La. — It could be a busy weekend at the Harbor Bar and Grill in Metairie.
“We are looking forward to having people coming in from New Orleans,” Harbor owner Gary Saucier said.
The Harbor is about a mile from New Orleans where there are now tighter Covid restrictions for Carnival.
The city is closing bars for the five-day weekend to prevent large crowds leading up to Fat Tuesday and to keep Mardi Gras from becoming a super-spreader event.
Saucier says he expects revelers to cross the parish line in droves, looking for a place to party.
His general manager, Theresa Thompson, said they are staffing up and preparing for an influx of customers.
“I feel bad for everyone in Orleans Parish, but we’re really excited out here being in Metairie, we feel like it’s going to be a good weekend,” Thompson said. “We’re going to be eating crawfish all weekend long.”
In Jefferson Parish and across the state except for New Orleans, bar capacity is capped at 25 percent. Restaurants can be at 50-percent.
JP President Cynthia Lee Sheng said she hopes revelers will celebrate safely and businesses will comply with the state’s reopening guidelines.
“Many people are working hard to do it safely,” Lee Sheng said. “But those who are not, we’re going to have extra eyes out in the field and out in our parish to make sure because we don’t need a super-spreader event coming right now.”
JP Chamber of Commerce President Todd Murphy is telling businesses to follow the rules or risk a post Mardi Gras surge in Coronavirus cases.
“Essentially we’re telling our members, you’re open for business but let’s use common sense and let’s be safe about it,” Murphy said.
Murphy added JP businesses are looking to balance public health with a healthy economy.
“We have got to continue moving forward to get this economy open,” Murphy said. “These small sacrifices that we have to make with PPE and social distancing and outdoor tents and all these kinds of things we need to do it so we can get the economy open.”
Back at the Harbor, managers are reminding patrons state rules require them to close at 11 p.m., masks are required, and everyone must order food to get in.
“If everybody’s responsible and abide by the rules, I think we’ll be fine,” Saucier said.
President Lee Sheng says her inspectors will be joined by extra personnel from the state fire marshal’s office to make sure bars and businesses are following state Coronavirus restrictions.
She warns they are not going to wait until Mardi Gras to begin stepped up enforcement.