Thousands of rodeo revellers have ignored social distancing rules to attend an annual Mother’s Day event in rural California.
Each year, the Cottonwood Rodeo attracts patrons to the outdoor event, however this year there was an expectation for gates to be closed amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
After deciding to cancel the event, the producer of the Cottonwood Rodeo Jeff Davis and local law enforcement said they would allow for the day to proceed providing certain restrictions were put in place.
Typically, the event – which brings in thousands of patrons each year – offers food and alcohol stalls as well as a parade for entertainment. But those aspects were cancelled because of coronavirus, and hand sanitiser dispensers were put in place instead.
However, the small changes didn’t appear to stop more than 2000 attendees from rubbing shoulders with one another and seemingly ignoring the advised 1.5 metre social distancing practices.
“Largest crowd I have seen in 37 years!,” one person wrote on the Cottonwood Rodeo Facebook page.
“I just hope and pray my grandchildren were not there,” another added.
“When everybody comes down with a virus don’t go run to the government for help,” another added.
“Everyone who can be traced to this event should not be given help or healthcare if they get sick with COVID-19.”
One even said attendees were “selfish” and “inconsiderate” for attending the event, given the social restriction still in place.
“Please don’t ask overworked medical professionals for help when you or your family are desperately ill,” the social media user wrote alongside a video of the event.
In an interview with local news station KRCR, longtime Cottonwood Rodeo attendee Daniel Warner said he wouldn’t miss the event given it was a day the community looks forward to every year.
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“This event has been going on for 50 years, it is a tradition for probably most of us, the rest of them that are here have been tired of being cooped up for months,” he said.
Chad Bushnell and Don Johnson added that they felt it was their right to attend the event, regardless of the restrictions in place across the state.
“We have constitutional rights. We have inalienable rights given to us by God,” Mr Johnson said.
Currently, residents within the State of California are currently ordered to stay home or at their place of residence, leaving only for permitted work, local shopping, healthcare, food, personal exercise and local outdoor recreation.
Currently, the state of California has 64,561 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and more than 2600 deaths.
Shasta County, which covers township of Cottonwood, has gone 12 days without any new COVID-19 cases being reported. In total, the county has reported 31 positive cases, a small portion of the 1.36 million cases confirmed in the USA.
Overnight, almost 1500 people waved flags and signs to renew their disapproval with the state’s coronavirus restrictions, urging the State of California to reopen.
While no arrests were made during the demonstration at Huntington Beach, many of the protesters were seen without facial coverings and were also seemingly defying physical distancing guidelines, according to ABC.
Speaking through a megaphone, one man spoke to the crowd and called the stay-at-home order “absolutely unconstitutional”.
Both events come almost a month after remarkable scenes erupted in Denver, where hundreds anti-quarantine rallies and protests unfolded against the stay-at-home orders.
The participants of the rally took to the streets of the city demanding laws be lifted because they were more worried about job losses than the chance of catching the virus.
The protests also took place in Michigan, where hundreds of cars honked horns, yelling slogans and angrily waving American flags, while in North Carolina, protesters clashed with police and were arrested carrying banners about their constitutional rights and “Reopen NC”, the name of a Facebook pages which now has tens of thousands of members.