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Calgary Stampede lays off 80% of workforce due to COVID-19

Crowds on the midway grounds at the Calgary Stampede on July 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

The Calgary Stampede is temporarily laying off 80 per cent of its workforce to take action during what it calls an “unprecedented halt in activity” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Premier Jason Kenney declares COVID-19 public health emergency in Alberta

“We have made significant temporary staff reductions and are working through this with all of our employees,” the Calgary Stampede said Tuesday, adding that the decision affects both Stampede and Stampede Foundation workers.

The organization said 890 people were impacted: 608 casuals and 282 part-timers and full-timers.

“We’re deeply saddened by the measures we undertook today, and our thoughts are with those employees and their families that are impacted by this decision,” said Stampede CEO Warren Connell, adding that they are trying to assist workers during this difficult time.

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READ MORE: Calgary orders stricter self-isolation protocols for international travellers, regardless of how they arrived

By taking the measures now, the foundation said it is looking to support the long-term sustainment of the organization and its place in the community.

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“These are not decisions that the Calgary Stampede takes lightly and we would like to express our deep appreciation for the work our employees have done to deliver a world-class, year-round experience for our community and guests,” it said in a statement.

Caleb Smidt, of Bellville, Texas, ropes a calf during semi-final rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede on Sunday, July 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

No decision yet on Stampede 2020

The Stampede said it is continuing to assess its ability to host the extravaganza this year.

“We’re working on our contingency plan based on what happens in the coming days and weeks on how effective a Stampede would be and how it would look,” Connell said.

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The organization said: “No decisions have been made at this time and we are committed to operating with prudence and in co-ordination with Calgary Emergency Management Agency and based on the guidance provided by Alberta Health Services.”​

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