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No free food sampling at Taipei Lunar New Year Market amid COVID-19

Dihua Street Market a tourist attraction and highlight of Lunar New Year festivities

Taipei Lunar New Year Festival on Dihua Street (Taipei City Government photo)

Taipei Lunar New Year Festival on Dihua Street (Taipei City Government photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei is considering scrapping one of the most popular traditions of the capital’s Lunar New Year celebrations — free food sampling at the Dihua Street market — as part of its anti-coronavirus efforts.

The Dihua marketplace is typically a tourist magnet during the Taipei Lunar New Year Festival, which this year is taking place between Jan. 28 and Feb. 10. Known for its wide array of dried foods and snacks, the outdoor fair that sprawls Dihua Street in western Taipei is where people indulge in frenzied shopping and sample free food ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday.

Boisterous scenes of a packed market will not be happening this year, as businesses are banned from setting up additional stalls peddling food and offering free samples, said Kao Chen-yuan (高振源), director at the Taipei City Office of Commerce (TCOOC).

Local eateries and food stores have expressed concern about subdued interest among visitors due to the ban but acknowledged the necessity of putting in place COVID measures. Visitors will also be required to wear a mask at the venue, reported CNA.

The event sees an average of 50,000 visitors on its opening day. The city government has refrained from implementing crowd control as the market is open-air and people do not tend to spend much time there, UDN quoted Kao as saying.

Check the 2019 Taipei Lunar New Year Festival: