Downtown is getting an injection of federal funding to host free exhibits and exhibitions in April but the organizers of Edmonton’s big summer festivals face a tough battle against COVID-19 restrictions to welcome fans back to ticketed events.
Under the Alberta government’s reopening plan, it’s not until the fourth and final stage that changes are possible for festivals, amusement parks, and sporting events. That won’t come until the number of people in hospitals across the province falls below 150. Alberta moved into Step 2 of its reopening plan March 1 by allowing fitness centres to offer low-intensity activities and libraries to open as hospitalizations dropped into the 250 range.
While hospitalizations have fallen from the late December peak of more than 900, Health Minister Tyler Shandro cautioned the government can’t say now what case counts will be in coming months but promised to work with summer festival organizers to provide information when available on whether in-person events can go ahead this year.
Edmonton Folk Fest producer Terry Wickham said a final decision on this year’s event won’t come until early April, but the odds are low it can proceed. "I just can't see 25,000 people gathering in August. Not with the slower rollout here, with the vaccines, and variants, etc., etc.," he told CTV Edmonton.