Image source: Chinatown Festival Facebook

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Chinese New Year Bazaar in Chinatown will be called off for the first time in history next year.

The Straits Times (ST) reported the organisers as saying that “concerns over crowd control” have led to the decision to call off the bazaar in 2021.

“The organisers had considered other solutions but faced uncertainties over when Phase Three of Singapore’s reopening would begin,” said Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens’ Consultative Committee, the event organisers.

Shopowners in Chinatown and shoppers alike expressed disappointment over the decision to call off the annual event.

A 60-year-old owner of a decoration shop in Chinatown, identified as Jane Yee, told ST that she was “quite upset” upon hearing the news.

Given the stiff competition from wholesalers, she said she has no plans to sell her lanterns online.

She added that they are too old to keep up with online selling.

Another shop owner also said that orders for Chinese New Year goods were “the lowest in two decades” as they did not anticipate crowds the size of previous years.

One shopper, Tan Hoon, told ST that the atmosphere will definitely be different without the Chinese New Year Bazaar, as the market is the “main point of Chinatown during Chinese New Year”.

“You really need to soak in the festive spirit at the market to feel like it’s Chinese New Year,” Ms Tan said.

Penning their comments on ST’s Facebook page, netizens who were aware of the news agreed that calling off the bazaar is a wise decision from the organisers, as public safety should come first, even if many will be disappointed.

While concerns on crowd control were cited by organisers as a reason to call off the bazaar, some of the netizens, however, voiced the concerns about the crowd at other places, such as daily crowding in public places such as MRT trains and buses, as well as in wet markets and at Jewel Changi Airport.

They questioned if there is any real difference between having a bazaar and “a wet market that will be crowded with people buying food” as well as “allowing crowds in MRT and buses”.

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