SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Lunar New Year 2021 is the year of the ox and is coming up. But of course this year, the celebration wont be the same because of the pandemic.

South Bay officials are trying to get the word out to celebrants to stay safe by avoiding large gatherings.

People were snapping up flowers and other items associated with the Lunar New Year Wednesday at the Grand Century Mall in the heart of San Jose’s Little Saigon neighborhood. At the same time, they are being urged to abide by state and local health orders and to exercise caution because of the pandemic.

“Please celebrate this Lunar New Year safely,” Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said.

“We did this throughout Thanksgiving, Christmas and all the festivities and even the Super Bowl. We’re going to ask you again, please do not visit your family in person.”

Inside the Grand Century Mall, an outreach team was encouraging merchants to remind their customers about the need to wear masks and social distancing.

“The majority are willing to follow the rules because they are also very afraid of catching COVID or passing it on to their older family members,” Sam Nguyen said.

Many of the region’s usual multi-day Lunar New Year festivities have been cancelled or scaled back this year. Health orders say churches and temples are limited to 20-percent of capacity. Fireworks, which typically draw thousands of people to the Grand Century Mall, will not be tolerated this year.

“At this point I would like to please recommend for the community, anybody coming on site, to please follow the guidelines for COVID-19,” Adelina Garcia said. “Wear a mask inside and outside the mall, do not congregate.”