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Going from pandemic isolation to massive Stampede crowd could be shocking, warns expert

Last Updated Jun 18, 2021 at 8:17 pm MDT

CALGARY – Canadians eager to return to scenes of normalcy might need to slow down.

Experts say after 15 months of pandemic isolation, a quick jump into crowds, like the one anticipated for the Calgary Stampede, could be startling.

“Even though they might think they’re very much ready for that, but they might be a little bit shocked,” said Tom Buchanan, the chair of the department of sociology and anthropology at Mount Royal University.

“I do think we’ll see an increase in some numbers of, say, conflicts or arguments and things like that, and part of that will just be the fact that we haven’t been interacting at all and there will be more interactions going on.”

We’ve already seen several heated incidents at NHL games in the United States in the short time fans have been back in greater capacities.

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But Buchanan believes a better future could come from the lessons learned during the pandemic.

“We’re now sort of like socialized towards uncertainty in a way. So, I think people will be a lot better than they were maybe in the beginning.”

He hopes we’ll be better at adapting and accommodating people’s needs, starting with things like entertainment venues offering at-home concert options for those still wary of crowds.

“Maybe there are live-stream ticketing options and things like that. That’s what I would hope,” he said.

On a personal level, he recommends easing yourself into larger gatherings after this significant time of isolation.

“People are going to have to realize that we’re in a state of rapid change and adaptation and that’s going to be difficult.”

For more on COVID-19 and Stampede, head to our special coverage page.