PHOENIX (3TV / CBS 5) – Another tradition in the valley is on hold due to COVID-19. The Valley Youth Theater in Phoenix is ​​canceling its winter shows, in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus.

Tons of people can’t wait to see the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ Christmas tail. It was canceled last year due to COVID-19, and children will no longer be able to perform this year. It was a tough decision the theater manager said he had to make.

“We’ll be coming back bigger and better than ever when it is safe to do so,” said production artistic director Bobb Cooper. “We have this old saying at the Youth Valley Theater that the show must go on, except for COVID-19.”

“For us, as an organization, we are here to inspire children to be the best they can be. If they’re sick, they can’t do it, ”said Bobb Cooper.

The show will not continue for certain musicals at the Valley Youth Theater.

“It’s a Christmas tail from Winnie the Pooh, which last year would have been the 25th year,” Cooper said.

Cooper has already canceled shows this year and last. In October, the “Spookley the Square Pumpkin” Halloween show was canceled.

He hoped this time would be different. “The delta variant has taken over, and now with the new omicron variant, it is not advisable to put children on stage inside our little theater and fill it with people right now,” said Cooper.

Cooper said the decision was made based on recommendations from the company’s physician advisory committee, which includes frontline workers and doctors.

While the vaccine has been approved for children as young as five, Cooper said some parents are still hesitant and don’t want to put anyone at risk.

“There is disappointment on the part of the kids, but they understand and they have been patient,” Cooper said.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 13% of children ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s 83,166 out of an estimated 645,000 children aged 5 to 11 in Arizona.

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While at least 12 states have identified cases of the Omicron coronavairus variant, U.S. health officials remain concerned about the Delta version which accounts for virtually all new infections.

Areas populated with children in this age group, such as schools and daycares, are currently the highest gathering places with positive cases of COVID-19.

“The definition of the epidemic is quite narrow. These are just a few cases, so to fit into this category of epidemic it doesn’t have to have a whole class of children sick, ”Jessica Rigler, deputy director of public health preparedness in the services department. Arizona Health Center. noted.

Cooper said he didn’t want to be the reason that number is increasing. “We have argued that we are not going to put the children at risk,” Cooper said.

Cooper is hoping they can make a comeback with their Sleeping Beauty musical in February. In the meantime, they will continue with virtual sessions and some practices in the theater parking lot with face coverings.

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