Calgary Stampede safety: Reduced attendance likely, COVID-19 health protocols in place

From left, Interim CEO Dana Peers, health advisor Dr. Jia Hu, and Stampede president Steve McDonough. SPENCER YU / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

The Calgary Stampede will include several health protocols when they launch the 2021 Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Calgary Stampede officials met with media on Monday morning to outline some of the efforts to open the gates to the grounds safely this year. The Stampede is set to run July 9 to 18. There will be a parade that Calgarians can watch virtually or on Global Calgary.

Among the measures, the Calgary Stampede said there would be rapid testing for frontline staff, along with enhanced cleaning. They also said there would be reduced lineups and digital queuing on the grounds and for other venues. There will also be masking protocols and sanitization stations on the grounds. Limited tickets will be available however it was not mentioned what the in person limit is going to be.

” COVID continues to be a very fluid situation however we have a number of protocols to make sure that we can control capacity,” said Peers.

While mask rules will be in place for frontline workers and employees, they will “encouraged” for guests, officials said.

Community day this year has also been changed allowing kids to enter for free all day so as to avoid a big rush at the gates that comes with the free admission.

Attendance on the grounds is anticipated at 50 per cent of typical capacity. On any given day, the Calgary Stampede typically attracts between 100,000 and 150,000 people.  Stampede officials said there would be no specific way to limit the crowds.

With no international travellers, Calgary Stampede officials said they expect that to reduce crowds by 10 to 15 per cent this year.

“We have faced much adversity in the past, but we have always dusted ourselves off and put on the best outdoor show on Earth,” said Calgary Stampede interim CEO, Dana Peers.

Peers talked about misinformation around the delivery of the Stampede, in comparison with other events. He said quite often some are only looking at the safety reasons for other events not happening in 2021. It could be a combination of safety, financial and logistical reasons, he said.

It was also announced that there would be 25 percent less attractions so as to make the space at the Stampede more open an allow more space for people to distance.

Health expert worked with the Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede officials have been working with the city, Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services on putting together a safety plan for this year’s show.

Dr. Jia Hu was brought on as a health and safety advisor to help with this year’s event planning. Hu is a former medical officer of health for the Calgary Zone. Hu said given it’s a primarily an outdoor event and outdoor transmission is rare, he believes the Calgary Stampede can be done safely and responsibly.

“In the past 15 to 18 months I’ve lived and breathed COVID and I would not be standing here if I didn’t think this event could be put on safety and responsibly,” Dr. Hu said.

There has been no decision yet on an on site vaccination location at the Calgary Stampede grounds. There were also questions on proof of vaccination or rapid testing for Nashville North attendees. That hasn’t yet been determined.

The show must go on

While certain attractions have been cut in order to create more space for attendees, the Rodeo will still continue with international competitors coming from the United States. Peers announced that the federal government has approved a modified quarantine and testing plan that would allow rodeo contestants to safely enter Canada.

“This decision acknowledges the importance of our iconic and world renowned rodeo as part of our annual celebration. We look forward to once again hosting the very best in the world here in July,” he said.