Organizers of 'anti-lockdown' rodeo charged with breaking Alberta health act

The organizers of a rodeo held May 1-2 near Bowden, Alta., to protest provincial COVID-19 restrictions have been summoned to make a court appearance for putting on the event. 

Hundreds gathered May 1-2 near Bowden for event in defiance of pandemic restrictions

A crowd sits on bleachers and lawnchairs with two people on horses in the foreground.
Hundreds attended a rodeo near Bowden, Alta., on May 1-2, 2021, in defiance of public health restrictions and despite surging COVID-19 cases. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

The organizers of a rodeo held earlier this month near Bowden, Alta., to protest provincial COVID-19 restrictions have been summoned to make a court appearance for putting on the event. 

Ty Northcott posted on his Facebook page Tuesday that officials served him papers on Monday for his role in May 1-2 event, which he dubbed "No more lockdowns rodeo rally."

RCMP confirmed to CBC News that Mounties on behalf of Alberta Health Services served papers to Ty and Gail Northcott requiring them to appear in Red Deer provincial court on May 17.

They were charged with a violation under Section 73(1) of the Public Health Act.

In a statement to CBC News, AHS said its officials worked with the Bowden Agriculture Society, Red Deer County and the Olds RCMP to confirm the rodeo event was in violation of orders issued by Alberta's chief medical officer of health.

So far, no cases of COVID-19 have arisen from the event. AHS noted that symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure.

"In some cases, symptoms may be mild and individuals may not seek out COVID-19 testing. COVID-19 can also be spread asymptomatically, and an individual may not know they are spreading the virus," said AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson in the statement. 

The "anti-lockdown" event held on private land along Highway 2A about 30 kilometres south of Red Deer drew hundreds of spectators, most of whom were not wearing masks.

Rodeo draws harsh rebuke from premier

Attendees at the event told CBC News they believe the pandemic is a "scamdemic" and that COVID-19 is a "flu" that is not serious.

The rodeo drew a harsh rebuke from Premier Jason Kenney, who said he was angered by the participants' selfish behaviour.

"Rodeo celebrates Alberta's western heritage, a key part of which is our community spirit and looking out for others, especially the vulnerable," Kenney said.

"That's the opposite of what these folks are doing."

Robb Stuart, the mayor of Bowden, said those who flouted health restrictions at the rodeo outside his town should be held accountable.

WATCH | Alberta rodeo crowd defies public health orders:

Hundreds in Alberta defy public health orders as COVID-19 cases surge

3 years ago
Duration 3:22
Featured VideoDespite restrictions on gatherings in Alberta, hundreds defied the rules at protests and even a rodeo. Meanwhile, Premier Jason Kenney faces calls to take more action as he suspended the provincial legislature.

No further charges stemming from the rodeo are being considered at this time, said RCMP media liaison Kelly Chantelle.

As of Monday, Alberta had 25,438 active cases, giving it the highest active-case rate, per capita, of all provinces and territories. The province reported 1,597 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and seven more deaths from the illness.

There were 690 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 158 people in intensive care. 

With files from Sarah Rieger, Erin Collins and the Canadian Press

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