Singapore

No dragon dances, fewer lion dances to welcome Year of the Ox

Dragon dances cancelled, lion dancers only allowed at certain venues due to Covid-19 restrictions

There will be fewer dancing animals to welcome the Year of the Ox.

Dragon dances are cancelled and lion dancers cannot perform at many public spaces this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

These are among stricter infection control measures for lion dance troupes this Chinese New Year, announced by the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation on Sunday.

The national organisation oversees the promotion of dragon and lion dance activities and issues the permits for cai qing (plucking of greens, usually a head of lettuce) activities.

Businesses and homeowners traditionally invite lion or dragon dance troupes to perform the cai qing ritual on their premises for good luck and fortune.

However, the familiar clashing of cymbals and beating of drums accompanying the performances will be absent from coffee shops, food centres and markets, and all homes and residential areas this year, to prevent crowds from congregating in public.

8 PERFORMERS ONLY

The number of performers is also capped at eight, which rules out dragon dances as they usually require more performers.

All performers must wear masks, except for those controlling the head and the tail during the performance.

Troupes will have to do more paperwork, such as submitting daily schedules to the police through the federation.

A cai qing permit for 16 days costs $50 this year, compared with $150 last year, before goods and services tax.

Performances adhering to social distancing rules can continue in offices, factories, hotels, temples and shops in some shopping centres.

Explaining why some larger venues such as temples are allowed to continue to host lion dance troupes, president of the federation Ang Mong Seng said: "The idea for cai qing this year is a private event with no customers or patrons."

No more than 50 people are allowed at these venues, and they must observe the 1m safe distancing rule.

Troupes are expecting huge drops in revenue this year.

Mr Chan Yan Wen, the 26-year-old leader of the Nam Feng Lion Dance Training Centre, estimated that takings will drop by $20,000 to $30,000 as most of his regular customers are homeowners and neighbourhood businesses.

COMMUNITY ISSUES