HK Covid-19 fourth wave: Lunar New Year flower markets to proceed, but with crowd control, officials confirm in U-turn

21-Jan-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s traditional Lunar New Year flower markets will be open for the festive period but with crowd-control measures, officials have said in a U-turn over an earlier decision to ban the annual event amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee announced the reversal on Tuesday, nearly two weeks after the event was called off as Covid-19 cases spiked, and said the government had to balance fighting the health crisis with the public’s demand for flowers and preparations made by farmers.

“With all these new measures that we have identified… plus the reduction in the number of stalls, we believe that we have tried our best to lower the infection risk,” she said.

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The Lunar New Year Fair is an annual event involving flower markets and thousands of florists and festive goods vendors in public parks and courtyards across the city.

Vendors will be required to provide contact details of staff members, who must return a negative Covid-19 test result at least two days before the fair starts.

To manage crowds, the number of stalls will be capped at around half capacity at each of the 15 locations.

Farmers will be able to use the venues for free, and stalls will be allocated through a lucky draw system. director of Food and Environmental Hygiene Vivian Lau Lee-kwan said authorities hoped to make arrangements so that each vendor would have at least one stall, with a maximum of three allocated to a farmer. For better traffic control, larger venues, such as Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, will be divided into smaller enclosed areas.

Authorities will install infrared sensors at the entrance and exits of each area to keep track of the number of people inside.

An alert system based on traffic light signals will be used on site, through radio and television, and on a dedicated website. A red alert will be issued when the capacity has been exceeded. The public will not be allowed to enter and will be asked to queue at a designated waiting area with social-distancing measures in place.

“We will endeavour to do our best for effective crowd management,” Lau said.

After meeting government officials over the issue on Tuesday, local orchid farmer Yeung Siu-lung said he was happy with the U-turn despite the limited number of stalls this year.

“The government really wants to help local farmers. Although the number of stalls has been cut down, at least we can still sell our goods,” he said. “Fighting the pandemic is most important. We are satisfied with the arrangement.”


Category: Hong Kong

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