Citing rising concern about the coronavirus outbreak in China, organizers called off the annual Live In Langley Lunar New Year celebration early on Saturday, Jan. 25, just hours before the celebration of Chinese art and culture was scheduled to take place.
Organizing committee member Susan Yu said the decision was made after about 200 people, some of them performers, cancelled.
“It’s just so sad, but we do believe it is the smart thing to do,” Yu told the Langley Advance Times.
“A lot of people travel to and from China this time of year,” she explained.
“It [the outbreak] is just getting worse and worse.”
In addition to the online cancellation notification, a small group of volunteers were going to be at the event location, Langley Christian Life Assembly, to inform ticket holders of the decision.
Yu said tickets will be refunded.
This year, attendance was expected to total nearly 1,000, a record for the all-volunteer event held by Live In Langley Chinese Association.
Yu added organizers are looking at holding the celebration later on this year, possibly “mid-autumn,” when it is hoped the virus risk will have been eliminated.
Yu added the organizers “definitely” intend to hold a new year celebration next year.
The Live In Langley event was one of two Lunar New Year celebrations scheduled for Saturday in Langley.
An afternoon event at the Cascades Casino was expected to proceed as planned.
More than 500 people have been infected in China after the outbreak started in the city of Wuhan.
More than a dozen people have died in China as of Thursday and Canadian authorities are monitoring five to six possible cases in the country. There are suspected cases in Ontario, Quebec and one in the Vancouver area.
Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver airports have been identified as the most likely entry point for coronavirus.
Additional health screening questions have been added to kiosks, informing travellers about coronavirus and asking them if they’ve been to Wuhan.