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Attendance at Chinese New Year event in Richmond dips slightly amid coronavirus concern

Last Updated Jan 25, 2020 at 11:11 pm PST

(Courtesy https://www.aberdeencentre.com)

Two events in the region have been cancelled due to concerns about the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus

Richmond's Aberdeen Centre has seen a small drop in attendance, but celebrations are proceeding

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) — One of the largest Lunar New Year celebrations in the Lower Mainland is going ahead, but concern over the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus has impacted attendance.

Aberdeen Centre in Richmond has continued to host to events Saturday, including a flower and gift fair, and a Cantonese opera performance.

“Today we were very busy. We had dragon and lion dance. We still had one dragon and eight lions dancing, welcoming the Year of the Rat,” spokesperson Joey Kwan told NEWS 1130 Saturday.

She says they saw about 15 per cent fewer people for Chinese New Year’s Eve celebrations on Friday. Turnout Saturday was strong, she estimates a five per cent drop in visitors.

“It’s pretty much going the same as it was last year and the year before,” Kwan explains. “Everyone wants to be embraced with the atmosphere, and joyfulness.”

While one group has told Kwan they may cancel their performance on Sunday, she says concern about the coronavirus in Richmond is somewhat muted.

But the mall is taking some precautions.

“I feel that it’s getting more serious, so I ordered some face masks in case some of the patrons walking in the mall want it and they forgot to bring it themselves,” Kwan says. “It’s just a little thing that we can do.”

Growing fears over the Wuhan coronavirus have led to the cancellation of two celebrations in Metro Vancouver Saturday.

Surrey’s Semiahmoo Mall’s New Year event was scheduled for Saturday, but the mall’s website announces it was cancelled.

“After serious consideration, we would like to cancel the Chinese New Year celebration on this Saturday.  It is not safe for our [performers] to present and not safe for the audience’s health,” says an email from a spokesperson.

An Eventbrite listing for Langley’s Lunar New Year Gala says that the event is cancelled “as coronavirus concern spreads.”

The deadly coronavirus has killed 56 people, almost 2,000 have been sickened, and it’s been confirmed in 13 places outside Mainland China.

The first Canadian case was confirmed in Toronto Saturday.