Limited access to the French Quarter and frigid weather prevented what New Orleans, Louisiana, usually craves at the end of Mardi Gras season: streets jam-packed with revelers.

Parades and parties on Fat Tuesday and the days leading up to the annual bash before the Christian season of Lent usually draw more than a million people to city streets.

But traffic was light on St. Charles Avenue, ordinarily a parade route. The median that usually is a sea of parade watchers was empty but for an occasional bundled-up jogger. The temperature was an unusually cold 29 degrees at midday.

Downtown Canal Street also was all but empty. Bourbon Street, where Mardi Gras crowds are usually the biggest and rowdiest, was blocked off by police barricades. Bars were closed.

Police were told that only people who lived or worked in the area or were staying in hotel could go on Bourbon Street.

Michael Bill was getting a fast-food breakfast from a takeout window just off Canal Street at the edge of the French Quarter. He surveyed the empty street.

“The cold doesn’t bother anyone. It’s the covid,” Bill said, of the disease caused by the coronavirus. He said he has been a ghost tour guide for 10 years but has had little work in the pandemic.

He didn’t blame New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell for the restrictions that canceled parades and have shuttered many businesses.

“The mayor’s doing the best she can,” Bill said.

Parades also were canceled this year in Mobile, Alabama, which boasts the nation’s oldest Mardi Gras celebrations. There was no plan to close bars there, but some streets were to be shut down Tuesday to control traffic and allow for more outdoor seating and service at restaurants and bars.

— Associated Press