How to rodeo during the COVID-19 pandemic
The sport of rodeo is essential to many. Contestants and contract personnel rely on the production of rodeos as a way of life and a source of income. Also, communities and several businesses lean on them for local economic impact. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, rodeo fans, committees, and contestants were forced to step away from the sport and a way of life they so dearly love.
Just before Memorial Day weekend, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association successfully kicked open the chutes, and committees around the country were encouraged, with guidelines, to open their rodeo arenas again. The sport of rodeo is not a one-size-fits-all sport and COVID-19 requirements vary across state lines, even county to county, proving difficult to build only one set of rules that will work for all arenas. The PRCA has been helping many sanctioned rodeos with the PRCA Coronavirus Ground Rules and Safety Guidelines. These guidelines were designed on May 18, 2020, in partnership with committees, public health officials, and local, state and federal officials. To get back to regularly scheduled rodeo events, the PRCA offered committees a few tips and guidelines based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Guidelines for PRCA members
Upon arrival, health and medical screenings are mandatory for every individual participating. Any and all personnel (contestants, stock contractors, contract personnel, rodeo committee members) who enter the rodeo grounds must be screened outside of the arena before being granted access. Individuals who do not clear the initial screening are directed to secondary screening and may be asked to leave until cleared by a medical provider. This is to prevent COVID-19 cases from rising and spreading within the facility.
Social distancing and compartmentalizing are suggested throughout the rodeo grounds, in accordance with recommendations from the CDC. They recommend compartmentalizing committees into groups of 10 or fewer to avoid potential spread. Event contestants should be broken into two groups, rough stock (bull riding, bareback riding, and saddle bronc riding) and timed events (barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, and team roping) and kept in their respective ends of the arena.
Guidelines for fans
An ample amount of preparation and sanitation will be required before viewers enter the arena. Depending on each county or state requirements, guests may be screened before entering and required to wear a mask. Regardless of the county or state laws, patrons are encouraged to social distance. Each event is encouraged to mark the rodeo grounds with stickers or proper signage to make sure social distancing is easier in high traffic areas. However, it is up to each spectator to maintain a proper distance away from other rodeo fans and workers.
To reduce contact, each rodeo is minimizing the exchange of items (tickets, cash, credit cards) from personnel and fans by creating digital ticketing systems, concession stands, and restroom protocols. According to the CDC, handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. In the PRCA Coronavirus Ground Rules and Safety Guideline Book, they suggest EPA-registered disinfectant spray or wipes are visibly distributed throughout rodeo grounds in efforts to keep handwashing a priority for contestants and guests.
These procedures remain in effect as of July 22, 2020, and are improving with new research and recommendations provided by the CDC. In unprecedented times, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association aims to provide a safe and healthy experience for fans, members, and contestants. The PRCA will continue to navigate through uncertainty and advocate for our members, affiliates, and fans! The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association wants to ensure safety is first by promoting the importance of handwashing, social distancing, and wearing a mask.
We hope to see you for our next rodeo in Kissimmee, and we will continue to provide updates to health and safety measures we plan to take. Check out rncfr.com for all event details, the latest rodeo news, and COVID-19 guidelines.