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Stampede can go ahead safely if people attending are vaccinated, says epidemiologist

Last Updated May 27, 2021 at 1:54 pm MDT

A Calgary Stampede employee looks on as the carousel spins on the Midway. Thursday, July 11th, 2019. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY – An epidemiologist says the Stampede could likely operate safely this summer, but it could also be a COVID-19 spreader if lots of unvaccinated people go.

Dr. Daniel Gregson, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Calgary, says a safe Stampede all depends on vaccination rates.

“I think for people who have been immunized and keeping it as an outdoor event–I mean really outdoor, no people inside–it’s probably going to be okay,” he said, adding people who’ve been given their shots and are under 40 years old are likely the safest at an event like Stampede.

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“Unfortunately, you know, people who aren’t immunized are going to go and it’s going to be a source of transmission.”

He says going to the Stampede could be risky if you’re part of an at-risk population or haven’t received at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

“If you are not immunized I would play it safe and stay away from group settings.”

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The Stampede said Thursday it had cancelled the chuckwagon races and had reimagined the evening show in place of the usual Grandstand show.

Other Stampede staples, like live music, other rodeo events, and the midway, are all in the planning stages still, said the organization.

Scooter Koruk with North American Midway Entertainment previously told 660 NEWS that the midway was still expected to go ahead and his team’s next stop is Calgary.

“We plan to cross the border in mid-June, we’re going to isolate for two weeks, quarantine ourselves for two weeks and then come to the Calgary Stampede. We’re really excited,” Koruk said in a previous interview.

He added they are working on getting visas approved and any official word from different levels of government.

-with files from Saif Kaisar, Steven Seto