Doctors say the province’s reopening plan is rushed
By Diego Flammini
A group of Alberta doctors are urging Premier Jason Kenney to cancel the upcoming Calgary Stampede.
Alberta’s “Open For Summer” plan calls for further restrictions to be lifted by mid-June and to lift all remaining restrictions by early July.
The Stampede is scheduled to take place between July 9 and 18.
The pandemic forced organizers to cancel the event for the first time in its 108-year history last summer.
But the provincial government’s timeline is too rushed, and it doesn’t allow for a substantial volume of the population to be vaccinated before opening more amenities, the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association says.
And areas of the Calgary Stampede could be breeding grounds for COVID-19 infections.
“Events such as the Calgary Stampede could pose a significant risk of transmission - less so in the Exhibition Grounds, but with greater risk in the bars, clubs and hotels as well as in crowds,” the group’s strategic COVID-19 pandemic committee said in a June 3 letter.
“Attendees may then travel home to potentially infect their families and close contacts. In our opinion, it is unsafe to hold a major event such as the Calgary Stampede, which may draw attendees and participants from multiple provinces and countries before at least 70% of eligible Albertans have been fully vaccinated with two doses.”
Alberta Health is confident the event can go on as planned.
Alberta’s vaccine rollout is tracking according to plan and will allow people to enjoy the Stampede, said Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications with Alberta Health.
“We were currently at 66.7%. Based on bookings in place, we expect to move to Stage 3 as planned by early July,” he told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “Health officials have been working with the people planning the Stampede and other events to help them fit to the reopening plan, given the long lead times required for large events, and help protect the health of everyone involved.”
Should the event proceed, Calgary Stampede visitors will notice some changes to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
Chuckwagon racing, for example, will not be part of this year’s Stampede. And the Grandstand Show scheduled to feature Paul Brandt will be replaced by a show with fireworks, competitive rodeo and other entertainment, the event website says.