Ballesteros: Heat, crowd control major concerns if there’s street dancing

By: Mars G. Alison - CDN Digital Correspondent | January 05,2021 - 09:20 PM

Former SFI executive director Ricky Ballesteros | CDN file

TALISAY CITY, Cebu – Crowd control, and the heat will be the biggest problems should Sinulog 2021 organizers push through with their plan to hold a street dance at the South Road Properties (SRP).

Former Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) executive director Ricky Ballesteros said that a Sinulog street dance will pose as one of the highest risks of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Crowd control will be the biggest problem if the organizers will hold a street dance for the Sinulog. The Sinulog street dance is one of the highest risks so organizers will have to be very careful and coordinate with the police to better manage the crowd who will surely flock to watch the event. It needs persons of authority and men in uniform to manage crowd control. So they should have proper coordination with agencies concerned like the IATF and PNP,” said Ballesteros.

The long-time SFI executive director who resigned in 2018 added that he was surprised to learn that organizers are mulling a Sinulog street dance at the SRP because he knew only of the ritual dancing which will be held within the vicinity of the SM City Seaside.

“It will be much better if they hold the ritual dancing than the street dance. A virtual celebration will be much better. Safety isn’t expensive, it is priceless. Carefulness will cost you nothing, carelessness will cost you your life,” Ballesteros further said.

At present, Ballesteros acts a resource speaker and is being consulted for advice with regards to the Sinulog festivities owing to his experience in having handled the Sinulog festivities for 16 years. He also helps in sending out invitations to delegations.

The SRP may also not be the best place to hold a Sinulog street dance owing to its hot temperature, Ballesteros stressed.

“As someone who has organized marathons passing through the SRP, the temperature in that area is so hot, even early in the morning. The dancers might get dehydrated as they may ignore the heat with the effect of the sea breeze. These contingents will be carrying many things, pushing their props. Heatstroke will be a danger. So dancers and participants must be hydrated all the time. Provide medical personnel and make sure they know how to deal with persons suffering from heat strokes,” said Ballesteros.

Aside from handling the Sinulog, Ballesteros is also a multi-awarded organizer of the Milo Marathon Visayas leg which has used the SRP as part of its route.

According to Ballesteros, the location of the SRP will complicate crowd control because it is surrounded by congested barangays and he is sure that as soon as people from these barangays will hear the Sinulog beat, they will flock to the area to watch the event.

He added that it will be hard to maintain social distancing and it will violate a number of protocols set up by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Aside from the spectators, it will also not be easy to stop the small entrepreneurs who will be taking advantage of the festivities to earn money.

Ballesteros said that ensuring the safety alone of the contingents will be hard enough because there will be 20 contingents with a maximum of 90 delegates which will total to 1,800 which is already a crowd.

Organizers must make sure that buses that will ferry the contingents will be disinfected before and after being used and there should be no pick-ups along the route.

Ballesteros suggested that it would be better if each contingent will have their own ID system to better monitor their respective participants.

This is only on the day of the event, a lot of things will also have to be done to ensure the contingents’ safety while they practice their performances.

“They should use disposable items, hand out a lot of disinfectants, make sure that after rehearsals, each participant will stay in their homes or quarters and no longer go out, and their temperature should be monitored daily,” Ballesteros suggested.

He also said that participants should be made to wear their masks the whole time so those who have respiratory problems should not be allowed to join.

He suggests a lot of police presence, rails, and signages to guide the people but even with all that, he would prefer a virtual holding of the festivities as it is manageable and poses a low risk.

“There is a lot of way of celebrating our faith in the Sto. Niño, and holding the Sinulog. Right now we have an uncertain situation, it changes by the hour and the minute. We are faced with an invisible enemy, one person could infect a family and the community,” said Ballesteros who added that we would never know if a person is a carrier, “a person could look healthy but he could be a carrier.”

Ballesteros said that “organizers should follow the IATF recommendations as they know better, coordinate with proper authorities and agency concerned.” /rcg

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TAGS: Cebu City, COVID-19, crowd control, heat, IATF, PNP, Ricky Ballesteros, Sinulog 2021, SRP, street dancing

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