Taiwan cancels Lantern Festival event as COVID cluster expands

Hsinchu City cancelation the first in show's 32-year history

Hsinchu City is canceling the Lantern Festival (Hsinchu City Government photo) 

Hsinchu City is canceling the Lantern Festival (Hsinchu City Government photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the number of coronavirus infections from a hospital cluster expanded to nine, the government announced Tuesday (Jan. 19) that it is canceling the Lantern Festival for the first time in the event’s 32-year history.

Hsinchu was to have hosted the colorful Year of the Ox lantern show from Feb. 26 to March 7, but the central government and Mayor Lin Chih-hsien (林智堅) agreed that organizing mass events is to be avoided, CNA reported.

The annual Lantern Festival, hosted by a different city each year, draws thousands of onlookers, mostly families with children, from all over the country. Last year’s edition in Taichung welcomed 11 million visitors, according to UDN.

As the event takes place in a wide-open space, it would be difficult to implement a name registration system for all visitors, government officials said Tuesday, concluding it is safer to cancel the festival.

According to the central government, Hsinchu stands to lose NT$200 million (US$7 million) in tourism revenue because of the cancelation.

The number of infections in a cluster recorded at the Taoyuan General Hospital jumped from five to nine Tuesday, causing health officials to advise against events likely to draw crowds.

The sudden outbreak is also likely to cause havoc with plans for the Feb. 10-16 Lunar New Year holiday, traditionally a period for family dinners and travel, UDN quoted experts as saying. Markets, restaurants, travel agencies, and hotels are likely to suffer as a consequence of the latest developments, they added.

Updated : 2021-03-06 11:04 GMT+08:00