Manchester City Council has reluctantly announced that the city’s eight council-organised bonfire and fireworks events will not take place this year.
In normal circumstances, events are normally held at Heaton Park (c.40,000 people), Platt Fields Park (c.40,000 people) and Wythenshawe Park (c.20,000 people), with five smaller events at Crumpsall Park, the Etihad Campus, Cringle Park, Debdale Park and Brookdale Park.
The decision is based on current government advice that large scale outdoor events with close density crowds should require attendees to prove their COVID status, either that they have been vaccinated or that they have tested negative.
This would require significant extra infrastructure and security to be in place and would make the events unworkable, especially with attendees all arriving and leaving within a concentrated time period.
There is also a distinct possibility, as COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise locally and nationally, that these sort of COVID-19 passport arrangements could become mandatory.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and I know that many people who look forward to these events will be disappointed, especially when we could not host them last year because of coronavirus restrictions,” said Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar.
“But the health of Manchester people, and the logistical considerations around that, has to come first.
“Concerns around high COVID infection rates, especially among children and young people who would traditionally make up the bulk of the attendance for this sort of event, also have to be factored in.
“This is not a blanket ban on fireworks events in the city.
“We would support externally-organised, pre-ticketed events provided they have suitable COVID-management plans in place.
“But it does mean that we are simply not in the position to host the free, non-ticketed events in our parks.
“We would encourage anyone who is planning to purchase their own fireworks to do so safely and responsibly and, as usual, will be working with partner agencies to help promote safety messages and prevent anti-social behaviour.”