Guidance for summer festivals, events coming 'soon' as some organizers opt to postpone
CALGARY -- After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the Calgary Stampede in 2020, organizers of the world famous rodeo are optimistic it can ride again this year.
"Looking into the next couple of months, we continue to plan for the best and safest possible Stampede for 2021," says Kristina Barnes, communications manager for the Calgary Stampede.
"Of course there are number of unknowns and that's why we're planning with a great amount of flexibility, knowing we will be able to adapt our operations accordingly."
There's no doubt the grounds and grandstand will look a little different in order to adhere to public health measures, Barnes points out, but provincial guidance for spring and summer events hasn't been revealed.
In December, Premier Jason Kenney pledged to "give a very clear signal about what summer events might look like" by the end of February.
As of March 2, details still have yet to be released, but Alberta's top doctor says more information will come soon.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw says her office is closely monitoring benchmarks for cases, hospitalizations and variants. She's adds there's also another important variable to consider.
"One of the absolute critical factors in being able to consider having larger events this summer will be the number of people we are able to offer a vaccine to and the number of people who accept that offer," Hinshaw told reporters Tuesday.
Already, major sporting events are pushing back their calendars. Spruce Meadows tournaments normally slated for June and July have been postponed until September.
The board decided to make the decision early, with travel rules being one of the main unknowns.
"It became evident to us that to try and execute the summer series in its traditional dates would be very difficult," said Ian Allison with Spruce Meadows.
"Particularly if there was border restrictions and the 14 days of isolation would be required for athletes coming into the country."
While event organizers eye the warmer weather, Calgary businesses are gearing up for patio season as well.
The City of Calgary is bringing back its extended patio program for 2021, allowing bars and restaurants to set up tables on some sidewalks and roadways to allow for more dining space.
"Every little inch of space they can get, especially the restaurant industry, while adhering to Alberta Health regulations is important," said Sonya Sharp with the city.
Development permit and license fees for extended patios are being waived for 2021. The program start is weather-dependent, but the city aims to allow the larger outdoor dining areas by late spring.