The maskless photos of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell during the indoor debate at the Mardi Gras Ball | Local policy

It was a chic carnival ball in one of the most elegant buildings in the city.

Yet despite the indoor mask mandate that Mayor LaToya Cantrell reimposed last month, pictures circulated online appear to show that politicians, including Cantrell herself, did not follow all the rules at the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball at Gallier Hall on Friday night.

Now Cantrell is accused of hypocrisy – a charge that has dogged politicians from California Governor Gavin Newsom to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson since the pandemic began.

In widely circulated videoa maskless Cantrell appears to be standing on a 360-degree swirling photo booth with a microphone in hand next to two other people. Other photos show Cantrell either wearing a dark color mask Where go without.

Cantrell’s administration did not dispute that the mayor did not wear the mask at all times required Friday night, nor the authenticity of the rotating platform video.

“Although we did not see perfect adoption of the guidelines in all cases over the weekend, we were generally encouraged by the level of masking and vigilance we saw on the parade route and during the balls,” said Beau Tidwell, a spokesperson for the town hall.

In most of Louisiana, not wearing a face mask at a ball would not violate any rules. But as COVID cases spiked last month, the Cantrell administration reinstated a mask mandate on indoor spaces. Exceptions are tightly drawn. Masks are meant to be put on at all times unless the wearer is “actively” eating or drinking.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell stresses the importance of people wearing their masks during New Year’s Eve events during a press event at the NOPD Special Operations Division station in New Orleans, Louisiana on Thursday, 30 December 2021. (Photo by Max Becherer,, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Lawyer)

The mandate will remain in effect at least until Shrove Tuesday – although compliance and enforcement was spotty in many indoor spaces during Carnival.

Photos and videos from the Mardi Gras ball appear to show some people wearing masks, from time to time. A prom attendee said on Twitter that she had to show proof of required vaccinations and wear a mask at the door.

Once inside, the ball was “about 70% hidden,” Kristine Froeba said.

Cantrell is the person who enforced the mask mandate via an emergency order, but footage appears to show other bigwigs not wearing masks for at least the time it took them to pose for a photo .

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City Council President Helena Moreno, Council Members Lesli Harris and Eugene Green, Civil District Court Clerk Chelsey Richard Napoleon, Criminal District Court Associate Chief Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier, and Parish School Board Chair d’Orléans Olin Parker were all photographed without a mask in images circulating online.

Members of the City Council at the Mayor's Mardi Gras Ball

New Orleans City Council members Helena Moreno and Eugene Green at the 2022 Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball.

“I’ll take my bumps and say I should have taken the picture with my mask on. I’ll leave it at that,” Green said. “I was excited to take a photo with our council chairman.”

Other council members and political figures did not respond to requests for comment.

Cantrell did not face public opposition from other elected officials in Orleans Parish regarding the mask mandate. But its COVID rules have agitated some local business owners and residents of the metropolitan area who have complained about the restrictions.

Arguing that the rules violated their rights, more than 100 people filed a lawsuit earlier this month to try to have the restrictions overturned. Cantrell fought a successful court battle to enforce the warrant through the end of the month.

Critics of the mask mandate seized on the photos in online posts. Cantrell is not the first politician to face such outrage. Newsom, the governor of California, survived a recall attempt in September despite anger over a image of him having dinner in a fancy French restaurant at the start of the pandemic despite the ban on such gatherings.

Johnson, the British Prime Minister, may not be so lucky. His political enemies are circling after images of staff partying in 2020 emerged, despite the strict lockdown rules in place at the time.

Tidwell said that despite the dust on the ball at Gallier Hall, the current rules will remain in place.

“The mask guidelines and vaccination requirement will remain in effect until Mardi Gras. It hasn’t changed and it won’t change,” he said.

Amid falling infection rates, Cantrell did not say whether she would reimpose the mask mandate after Mardi Gras ends.

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