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Plans for Calgary Stampede include reduced attendance, COVID-19 safety protocols

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CALGARY – Officials with the Calgary Stampede say reduced daily attendance and enhanced COVID-19 protocols to keep visitors safe will be in place if the event goes ahead.

They say plans are for capacity to be cut in half, and attendees could be required to show proof of vaccination or undergo rapid testing to enter venues, including the Nashville North live music tent.

Staff and volunteers would be required to wear masks and have rapid COVID-19 testing.

The world-renowned rodeo and fair is expected to go ahead July 9 and run for 10 days.

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Premier Jason Kenney announced last month that almost all COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta could be gone by early July if 70 per cent of the population has received a first dose of vaccine.

A doctors group in Edmonton has urged the premier to cancel major summer events, including the Stampede, or postpone them until fall.

“There’s been a lot of debate lately about how Alberta should open up again and when,” Steve McDonough, president and board chairman of the Calgary Stampede, said Monday.

“There have been criticisms of the Stampede for being one of the first organizations to open the gates. Other parts of the world have shown us that we can begin the opening of our doors as long as it’s done responsibly.

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“We recognize that we are leading the way in Canada with our event and we do so following best practices, advice and safety protocols.”

Dr. Jia Hu, a public health physician who is working as an adviser to the Stampede, said three main things would be needed to keep the event safe.

“First of all, it’s primarily an outdoor event and we know outdoor transmission is exceedingly rare,” he said. “Secondly, we are significantly reducing capacity.

“Lastly, we are taking a risk-based approach. We understand certain things are riskier than others, and that’s why we are implementing things like masking, like rapid testing and considering proof of vaccination.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 14, 2021.

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