Sunday, January 16, 2022

Thousands crowd at Calgary Stampede’s live music venue

Calgary—A bird’s eye view of a popular live music venue on the first night of the Calgary Stampede saw hundreds of people standing together, waiting for a swab or handing over proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

By the end of Thursday night, thousands of people had flown in and out of an 18-plus party tent called Nashville North, believed to be the first major in Canada to require health care information to apply or enter testing. site is considered.

The popular open-air concert hall is open each day and night during the 10-day Western Fest and Rodeo.

New security measures adopted by Stampede this year include halving daily attendance. Staff and volunteers are also required to wear masks and undergo a COVID-19 rapid test.

To enter Nashville North, patrons must have proof of having had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot two weeks prior. Otherwise, a negative rapid test result at the tent door or at the entrance to the stampede grounds.

Stampede’s vice president Jim Laurendo said visitors so far have been “good-natured” regarding the conditions of entry to the music party. Till Friday morning, he was unaware of any positive case as a result of the rapid test.

“We find ourselves in this position at the end of this pandemic, depending on the timing of our event,” Laurendo said. “In a rare instance when someone tests positive for COVID, they will be asked by medical professionals to leave the stampede park and return home and contact Alberta Health Services.”

Should a person refuse to leave or behave inappropriately, Laurendo said police would be called to aid as a “last resort.” Security is also on the ground during the entire event.

Alberta was the first province in Canada to ease nearly all of its public health measures on July 1, including its provincewide mask mandate and cap on gatherings. A city in Calgary voted to remove a mask bylaw just in time for the stampede.

If it weren’t for medical professionals outside Nashville North dressed head-to-toe in personal protective equipment, the venue would be a flashback to past Stampedes, which saw huge crowds in western get-ups and downing boozy drinks.

The lines were running fast on Friday afternoon. It took only minutes for people to receive bright pink wristbands indicating their approved status to enter the venue. It took about 15 minutes for the rapid test takers from swabbing to getting the results.

Will Malms, who hails from British Columbia, said it was an easy process after showing proof of his vaccinations.

“I think it’s cool but, honestly, I don’t really care. The whole sense of normalcy, coming and being in a crowd of people is fantastic,” Malmes said. “I feel quite safe. I mean, we’re all going to die of something.”

Others said they felt the same way as they sat at picnic tables spread across the venue, allowing for more space than in previous years.

First-time stampede participants Ben Powell and Amy Driscoll, who had moved to Calgary a few months earlier from the United Kingdom, expressed a similar sense of relief to return to life as it once was.

“We’ve been double vaccinated now, so that’s going to have to end for a while. We’ll either have to live with it or get back to normal,” Powell said.

They both said Nashville North’s requirements make them “feel safe” because they know the dancer or the person sitting next to them has either tested negative for the virus or been vaccinated.

Donna Drummond, who took a rapid test to go in, said it was “nothing”, just three seconds on each side of her nose.

“I did my vaccinations, but where I went, they didn’t have a card and I’m not carrying a full sheet of paper. So whatever, I did the rapid test,” said Drummond, who was on the rampage. used to work.

“I just want them to open everything up… I miss international travelers.”

by Alana Smith



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