Sinulog live performances scrapped amid health concerns
CEBU CITY — For the first time in 41 years, the city will miss the live performances for the Sinulog Festival as health and security officials raised concerns over holding the activity amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, the city government announced the cancellation of the street dancing and ritual showdown scheduled for Jan. 17 at South Road Properties.
“After careful examination and in response to concerns by Cebuanos, we decided to cancel the street dancing and live ritual showdown. We do not want to be an added burden in our fight against the coronavirus,” Vice Mayor Michael Rama, who heads the Sinulog preparations, said at a press conference.
All dance presentations would be prerecorded and shown to the judges, he said.
The Sinulog Festival, held in honor of the Sto. Niño or the Child Jesus, usually draws millions of people from other parts of the country and abroad.
Rama had been pushing for the live presentations, saying the city had put in place strict measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including not allowing spectators during the event.
But the local police and a group of more than 3,000 doctors opposed the plan, worried that it would contribute to another surge in COVID-19 cases in the city.
In a statement on Wednesday, Cebu Medical Society (CMS) said the city should not be complacent.
“Sinulog is a convergence of both spectators and performers. These forms of mass gatherings pose a high risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Dr. Minnie Monteclaro, CMS president, said in a statement.
“It is our firm belief that public health and safety should be of utmost priority. Therefore, we strongly oppose the holding of the Sinulog 2021 and other related activities. We further make this appeal to the public to please stay at home and observe standard precautionary measures,” she added.
Just recently, a Sinulog participant had tested positive for COVID-19. The Cebu City Emergency Operations Center immediately conducted contact tracing to identify those who had close contact with the participant, including the 90 members of the group.
“We will implement new guidelines to ensure an orderly and safe Sinulog through virtual or online presentation which can be viewed by people in their respective homes,” Rama said. — REPORTS FROM NESTLE SEMILLA AND ADOR VINCENT MAYOL
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