Rochdale Borough Council has confirmed that its public bonfires and firework displays across the borough have been cancelled for 2020 due to the continuing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The council normally hosts 3 public bonfires and firework displays in Middleton, Heywood and Rochdale on or around 5 November every year that are attended by tens of thousands of people.
However, because of the pandemic, displays at Bowlee Community Park, Queen's Park and on Cronkeyshaw Common will not be going ahead this year.
With already high coronavirus infection rates still increasing, the council has also written to organisers of the borough's private displays, suggesting that they too do not go ahead, but confirming that anyone who does attempt to organise their own public bonfire or firework display must demonstrate how it will be COVID secure and managed within current government guidelines. Private organisers are also warned that further restrictions could be imposed at any time to help control the spread of coronavirus and that the council has powers to stop any event if there aren't satisfactory control and management plans in place.
Councillor Neil Emmott, cabinet member for environment said:
"Due to the continued challenges of coronavirus in our borough and the measures in place to help stop the spread it would not be responsible to stage events that attract thousands of people into an environment where social distancing would be very difficult. We are so sorry to have to cancel more of our most popular events and I share the disappointment of everyone who attends, but the health and wellbeing of all our residents comes first and we must not be encouraging large numbers of people to gather or travel. We also ask that anyone who is planning to still celebrate Bonfire Night this year follows the latest measures. Right now we must focus our efforts on ensuring that the risks of coronavirus are reduced and I hope to see these events return with a bang in 2021."
The announcement follows a series of high profile COVID-19 event cancellations this year including Rochdale Food & Drink Festival, Rochdale Feel Good Festival and Williams BMW Rochdale Half Marathon, 10K & Fun Run.