Leeds cancels bonfire night for second year running amid continuing coronavirus fears

·2-min read
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Forget fears about Christmas being cancelled again this year, one English city has scrapped bonfire night.

Leeds Council has axed its six annual firework celebrations amid ongoing coronavirus fears there.

It says it has taken the action because it could not ensure the events – which attract some 100,000 people every year – were Covid secure.

It makes the West Yorkshire city the first place in England to effectively cancel 5 November this year.

But residents have already labelled the decision “joyless” in an almost immediate backlash.

Announcing the decision, Councillor Salma Arif, executive member for public health and active lifestyles, said: “We certainly did not take this decision lightly, and we know that this news will come as a real disappointment to many people.”

But the Labour-run authority said that it had no way of meeting government guidelines which say people attending such large outdoor events should prove they are at a low risk of carrying Covid-19.

It claimed those rules mean everyone attending would need to prove they were vaccinated or had natural immunity or had tested negative for the virus.

“Having undertaken an assessment, we do not believe given the additional changes that would need to be implemented, that it is possible to host the six bonfire events this year without incurring significant additional expense and affecting the attendees’ overall enjoyment,” said Arif.

She added: “The health and well-being of every person in attendance at all proposed council managed events, including our community bonfires remains our absolute priority.

“This is extremely important especially in an environment where the threat of coronavirus is still very much present”

In the absence of the events – which generate millions of pounds of economic activity – the council will instead focus on reducing firework-related anti-social behaviour in the run-up to 5 November, focusing on areas known to have experienced problems in previous years.

But the decision was met with almost instant anger in the city.

Responding to the council’s announcement on Twitter, one user wrote simply: “What a miserable, joyless year.”

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