The New Taipei City Government yesterday announced it would downsize a New Year’s Day flag-raising ceremony on Friday at city hall and postpone a fireworks display in Bali District (八里) to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said that the city government would step up its COVID-19 prevention efforts this week, particularly of outdoor gatherings.
If officials have trouble enforcing a real-name system to track participants and regulate crowds at an event, they should consider canceling it or holding it later, Hou said.
Photo: Lai Hsiao-tung, Taipei Times
The city government and 29 district offices had planned to hold flag-raising ceremonies on Friday, but the New Taipei City Department of Civil Affairs said that it would downsize the events, adding that each district office should assess if it is able to enforce disease prevention measures, including crowd control, and ensuring people wear masks, sign health declaration forms and have their temperatures taken.
“In the past, we have had nearly 10,000 city residents attend flag-raising ceremonies. As the pandemic continues to rage worldwide, we have to consider the high infection risks of holding such a large event, where crowds and close contact with strangers are inevitable. The occurrence of an isolated case or cluster of infections would pose a challenge to the nation’s disease prevention system,” New Taipei City Department of Civil Affairs Director Ko Ching-chung (柯慶忠) said.
“Following a careful assessment, we have decided to downsize the flag-raising ceremony at the city hall plaza and will broadcast it live online. We will also cancel the distribution of free canvas bags on Friday and give them out another time,” he said.
The New Taipei City High Riverbank Construction Management Office said it would postpone a fireworks show in Bali.
“The fireworks would be launched over a 500m-wide area, and the disease prevention restricted area is about 1,200m. We would not be able to effectively set up a restricted area and track every participant. The area is also close to the Tamsui River (淡水河), where people would gather to watch the fireworks. Risk of virus outbreaks are high under these circumstances,” the office said.
The show was to be a warm-up for an event at the Tamkang Bridge (淡江大橋), which is to be completed in 2024, it said, adding that it would reschedule when the pandemic has subsided.
Separately yesterday, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said the city would decide by tomorrow whether to cancel the city’s New Year’s Eve party at the High Speed Rail’s Taoyuan Station Plaza.
Additional reporting by Wei Chin-yun
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