TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid an expanding hospital coronavirus cluster, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Wednesday (Jan. 20) announced that the city's lantern festival will be postponed and the Dihua Street New Year Market canceled.
On Tuesday (Jan. 19), the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced four new cases associated with a cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital. Three of the cases had recently spent an extended period of time in crowded areas of Taoyuan, including Taoyuan Nanmen Market and a Mos Burger restaurant.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Ko announced that conditions are no longer suitable for holding large-scale public events. He announced that the New Year Market on Dihua Street, scheduled to debut on Jan. 28, would be canceled.
In addition, he stated that the Taipei Lantern Festival, which had been slated to begin Feb. 26, would be postponed. He suggested that the lanterns may be put on display during the Mid-Autumn Festival instead.
Dihua New Year Market. (CNA photo)
Ko said that he believes the pandemic will continue for at least half a year. He said that in the meantime, the city government will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments when necessary.
The mayor acknowledged that the sudden cancelation of these events will have a financial impact on vendors. He pledged that the city is working out how to calculate the amount of rent and insurance fees spent by vendors and how to compensate them.
Ko stated that the development of the epidemic over these past few days has been closely monitored to decide whether or not to upgrade Taipei's epidemic prevention measures. The city government's position is to maintain normal activities in society as much as possible, said Ko.
However, if there is a community outbreak in Taipei, the epidemic prevention strategy will be very different. Ko said an entire standard operating procedure has been prepared for this contingency, including a 100-person limit for public venues.