The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced yesterday morning that all upcoming activities and events in celebration of the Lunar New Year would be cancelled.
A short message was sent to the media a few minutes before the blessing ceremony of the Parade for Celebration of the Year of the Rat at 11 a.m. at Sai Van Lake Square.
Later that afternoon, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng confirmed the cancellation of Lunar New Year events at a press conference organized by his office to address updates and government measures on the pneumonia crisis.
The program for New Year celebrations included a series of public events that would take place in highly frequented areas of the city, such as the Senado Square, the Ruins of Saint Paul’s and other areas around the city’s historical center.
As in previous years, the highlight of the celebrations was supposed to be the parade, which was scheduled to occur on the third and eighth day of the Lunar New Year (January 27 and February 1).
The government’s decision to cancel all events, including also the fireworks display, the Golden Dragon Parade, and the distribution of Lai Si by the Fortune, Happiness, Prosperity and Longevity Gods, among others, was made in light of the risks posed by the growing number of pneumonia infections. Two cases of the new virus have already been confirmed locally.
Performances by nine teams from different countries and regions that were to take place in several locations in the city during the first two days of the new year and in anticipation of their participation in the New Year Parade were also cancelled.
The MGTO had considered continuing with the events, but announced on Wednesday that they would take preventive measures to protect their frontline staff and warn people about the new coronavirus.
“Considering these festive activities will attract large groups of audiences and also to strengthen protection for its frontline staff, the Office is adopting relevant preventions and calling for active cooperation by tourism operations in response to the latest developments of the novel coronavirus,” MGTO said.
They added that the measures being taken included the display of posters advising on preventive measures; the provision of alcohol-based hand sanitizers for the audience, staff and performers; and preparing surgical face masks on site. Temperature screening at the event venue for staff and performers will also be enforced, as well as prompt action in case someone is found to have suspicious symptoms.
The final decision came after a second case of the novel coronavirus in Macau was confirmed by health authorities yesterday.
The annual CNY Charity Walk organized by the Macau Tower was also cancelled. The organizers said in a statement that they decided to cancel the stair-climbing sports event, CNY Charity Walk 2020, which was scheduled for January 27.
The organizers justified the event cancellation “in view of the recent confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus in Macau.”