Lubao Hot Air Balloon Festival canceled amid COVID-19 outbreak

MANILA, Philippines – The upcoming Lubao International Balloon and Music Festival in Pampanga has been cancelled due to health and safety concerns amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The festival was originally set to happen on April 3 to 5 at Pradera Verde in Lubao.

Organizers announced the cancellation on their Facebook page on February 22 saying “for the past 6 years of organizing the Lubao International Hot Air Balloon and Music Festival, we have always strived to prioritize the safety and comfort of our guests.”

“It is for this reason, and in light of the recent health concerns surrounding the COVID-19, that we have reached the decision to cancel the event on April 3, 4, and 5,” they said.

At the same time, the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, a similar event which has been running since 1994, is pushing through on March 6 to 8 at the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.

The event, called Flying Carnival 2020: A Weekend of Almost Everything That Flies, will feature hot air balloon flights and rides, fireworks, paragliding, kite-flying, aviation seminars, and a bazaar.

In a February 7 advisory, the Department of Health (DOH) has urged the public to "avoid attending, participating in, and organizing events that draw a huge number of attendees," and recommended the cancellation of such events "until further advice."

However, on February 18, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Interior Secretary Eduard Año, and Tourism Secertary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat issued a joint statement assuring the public "that it is safe to organize and attend public gatherings, meetings, and festivals as long as all precautionary measures identified by the DOH are observed."

As of February 25, the DOH said it has investigated 610 people for COVID-19. There have been 3 confirmed cases, with one death and two recoveries. – Rappler.com

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