No Bull: Bangkok cancels Chinese New Year celebrations

File photo of the 2014 Chinese New Year festival at Bangkok’s Chinatown Yaowarat. Photo: Aleksandr Zykov / CC BY-SA 2.0
File photo of the 2014 Chinese New Year festival at Bangkok’s Chinatown Yaowarat. Photo: Aleksandr Zykov / CC BY-SA 2.0

No dragon dances, loud drum rolls or any busy booths will crowd Yaowarat Road with vestiges of Chinese culture next week after Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang announced that no Lunar Festival will be held.

After Thailand declared Chinese New Year an official holiday for the first time, it won’t be celebrated in the capital due to COVID-19 concerns – the second New Year’s festivities to be set aside in as many months, following City Hall’s cancelation of 2021 countdown events due to the pandemic second wave.

This time, Aswin said it is being canceled out of an abundance of caution as the pandemic shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon. People can still gather privately to celebrate, and fire teams will be on alert at 84 locations around Bangkok in case burning joss papers or firecrackers get out of hand, as they tend to do.

Fortunately Thailand is blessed with not one, not two, but three New Year’s celebrations – hopefully Songkran can still be saved in April, though not a single dose of coronavirus vaccine has reached the public with about 10 weeks left on the clock.

COVID-19 task force spokesperson Taweesilp Wisanuyothin warned that despite no lockdown mandates, people gathering for the New Year should be cautious. He encouraged people to give out Ang Pao, traditional red envelopes packed with cash, electronically to reduce physical contact and wear masks, even with family.

“You can meet each other but please still wear masks. If you live far away from each other, you can just video call instead of traveling,” Taweesilp said.

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