By Ryan King
Community News Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES – With COVID-19 cases surging across the country in recent weeks, many holiday events were curtailed. Unfortunately, this included New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Firework displays were cancelled in Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Saint John, Iqaluit, Charlottetown, and Saskatoon, among other places. While these larger centres erred on the side of caution, an exception in Newfoundland was the City of St. John’s, which went ahead with its firework display over Quidi Vidi Lake at 8:00 p.m. on New Years Eve. Those celebrations did not go ahead without some guidelines for the public who chose to watch in-person.
“Keeping COVID-19 public health guidelines in mind, the City recommends attendees remain in their vehicles to watch the fireworks. If exiting vehicles or walking and wheeling to the site, wearing a face mask and keeping two meters of physical distance from others that are not close contacts is strongly encouraged,” the city announced.
Conversely, the Town of Port aux Basques joined other municipalities by cancelling plans for Tibbs Eve fireworks.
“The fireworks planned for December 23, 2021 was cancelled due to an abundance of caution with the increase in COVID-19 cases,” explained Town Manager Leon MacIsaac. “Each municipality makes their own decisions on what, if any, event will continue during the current pandemic.”
While other municipalities encouraged residents to remain in vehicles and social distance, MacIsaac shared that popular public events like firework displays can still encourage the spread of the virus despite precautions.
“While it is encouraged that residents remain in their vehicles, a large number still choose to gather in close quarters without social distancing that can contribute to contact spreading. The new variant is highly contagious which has now placed the entire province in Alert Level 4,” stated MacIsaac.
Hindsight would appear to support that decision.
“The Province has seen case counts increase significantly since the decision was made to cancel the event, which would indicate that the correct decision to use extreme caution was made,” said MacIsaac.