Rodeo performers and staff have been granted a federal COVID-19 travel exemption to participate in this summer's Calgary Stampede.
"Nothing represents the Stampede more than the bulls and broncs of the Calgary Stampede rodeo," Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement Friday.
"Today, the federal government has granted performers and staff a travel exemption for the 2021 Stampede rodeo, meaning this historic celebration of our western roots will be able to take place this year."
The exemption, signed by Marco Mendicino, the federal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, applies to "rodeo participants and select support staff and workers" for one-time entry into Canada.
It follows a review of protocols outlined by the Stampede to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
The Stampede must have in place measures to test, trace and isolate COVID-19 cases, comply with health orders, implement a "modified quarantine," ensure measures are in place to limit physical interactions at the site and ensure disinfection, hire a compliance officer to oversee quarantine requirements and have consequences for non-compliance.
Stage 3 reopening
Kenney has been pushing for a reopening of the province in time for summer, and the Stampede, with the removal of all restrictions pegged to increased vaccinations and reduced hospitalizations.
"We are also closing in on the 70 per cent threshold for Stage 3 of Alberta's 'Open For Summer Plan' that will end the public health restrictions," he said in his statement Friday.
The province entered Stage 2 of its reopening plan on Thursday, which required 60 per cent of those 12 and older to have had at least one vaccine shot and fewer than 500 infected patients in hospitals.
The Stampede has said this year's event will be different than in the past in order to ensure the safety of attendees. Chuckwagon races will not take place and there will be a modified Grandstand Show.
Details on what the midway will look like have not yet been released, but the Stampede has said there will be fewer attendees and more events will be moved outside.
"Specific experiences, activities and operations will continue to flex and adapt based on the evolving situation and the guidance provided directly by Alberta Health," the organization said in a news release at the end of May.
The Stampede did say it will host a parade this year, albeit restricted to the grounds and without crowds lining the route.