Charges have been laid against the organizers of a rodeo and rally protesting COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta, RCMP said in a news release on Tuesday.
On Monday, Ty Northcott and Gail Northcott, both of Bowden, were charged with contravening Section 73(1) of the Public Health Act of Alberta.
The event took place the first weekend of May and saw hundreds of people gather outside the community of Bowden.
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Ahead of the event, Alberta Health Services said it informed organizers the event would violate COVID-19 restrictions and would be considered illegal.
Premier Jason Kenney condemned the event on social media on May 2, calling the gathering “disturbing to see.”
“We are all sick of this. We all want it to end,” he tweeted. “Thousands of Albertans are following the rules, sacrificing travel and social gatherings to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
While there have not been any reported cases of COVID-19 linked to the rodeo, AHS says symptoms can take 14 days to present or people can have COVID-19 while not presenting any symptoms.
“This is why it is imperative that all Albertans continue to follow CMOH Orders to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus to others,” AHS said in a statement.
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The same weekend the rally was held, Alberta set a new record for COVID-19 cases. On May 1, 2,433 new cases of COVID-19 were reported.
AHS said it worked with the RCMP, the Bowden Agriculture Society and Red Deer County to confirm the rodeo was in violation of the chief medical officer of health’s orders.
On May 6, the Court of Queen’s Bench granted AHS an injunction against the organizers of illegal gatherings and rallies that break COVID-19 public health orders. This would apply to the organizers of the rodeo and any similar events in the future.
The organizers of the rodeo will be required to appear in court, though RCMP did not provide a date for a court appearance.
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