Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for Banff

Updated 6:30 a.m., May 25, 2022

Banff region COVID statistics

View Alberta COVID Tracker and Wastewater data (Click wastewater from top menu and select Banff to see the trend of cases of the COVID virus being detected in Banff) 

Based on the most up-to-date available Statistics from Alberta Health:

Vaccinations in the Banff/ID9 region:

  • 10,823 residents are vaccinated with at least 1 dose 
  • 9,728 residents have 2 doses  
  • 4,830 residents have 3 doses

Alberta-wide statists (as of April 11):

  •      87% of Albertans 12 years old and alder have received two doses
  • ↓  1,040 hospitalizations in Alberta due to COVID  
  • ↓    31 Albertans in ICU due to COVID

Alberta Health Services (AHS) updates COVID cases for all regions at Alberta COVID Statistics.

Town of Banff Guidance

The Town of Banff urges residents, businesses and visitors to take extra measures to protect the safety of individuals, due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant present in Banff and across Alberta. 

Based on advice from regional health experts, the Town of Banff urges everyone in the community to follow these directions:

  • get your vaccines as soon as you are eligible; if you have had your second dose at least 5 months ago, book your third "booster" as soon as possible. Vaccines are proven to reduce the risk of death or serious illness.
  • stay home if you feel sick and stay away from others until you feel better; use at-home rapid test if you have one (assume you have COVID if you feel unwell)
    • you are still legally required to isolate for 10 days from the date of when you start to get COVID symptoms (cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever,  loss of smell or taste) or have a positive test result, until the symptoms have completely resolved
    • If you need food delivery, see info about Nester's delivery and other food support
  • be kind to others as we navigate the changing COVID situation; please be courteous and respectful to health care workers and hospitality workers implementing COVID measures 
  • prioritize outdoor activities in beautiful Banff where the risk of transmission is reduced and the opportunities for healthy rejuvenation abound; examples include:
    • skiing and snowboarding at one of the three local alpine resorts; cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the many trails around town; skating and shinny at the Fenlands outdoor rink; hiking on local trails such as Tunnel Mountain or Sulphur Mountain; window shopping on the famous Banff Avenue and brand new Bear Street; and visiting any of the many attractions in and around Banff. 
  • For visitors, call ahead. Contact the services you will want in the town, before you arrive, because businesses and services may not be operating at full hours. 

Menu for important COVID information:

An outbreak of respiratory illness, now known to be caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, was first identified on December 31, 2019.  The novel coronavirus disease has been given the name COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Everyone in Banff must follow health and safety practices to stop the spread.

Emergency Alerts: All individuals and businesses in Banff are encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts from the Town of Banff, in the event broad-based communications is required.

Critical new information:

Alberta entered Step 2 on March 1, resulting in the following:

  • Provincial mask mandate is removed, except in high-risk settings. Masks will still be required on public transit, at AHS-operated and contracted facilities, and all continuing care settings
  • All school requirements removed (for example: Kindergarten to grade 6 cohorts)
  • Youth screening activities for entertainment and sport activities removed
  • Capacity on all large venues and entertainment venues lifted
  • Indoor and outdoor social gathering limits lifted
  • Mandatory work-from-home requirements lifted
  • Isolation requirements remain in effect.
  • See full information about  Step 2 of the phased process to lift all restrictions. 

Step 3, which includes removing isolation requirements, does not have a specified date.

  • Change to legal isolation requirements (effective January 3, 2022) - Alberta reduces COVID isolation time for people who are double vaccinated and symptom-free from 10 days down to 5 days:
    • Albertans are legally required to isolate as outlined below:
      • Fully vaccinated (2 doses or 1 dose Janssen): isolate for 5 days from the start of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, if symptoms are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition. For 5 days following isolation, wear a mask at all times when around others outside of home.
      • Not fully vaccinated (1 dose or less): isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, if symptoms are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition.
      • If you test negative and have symptoms, you should still stay home and away from others until symptoms resolve.
    • See details at https://www.alberta.ca/isolation.aspx 

  • Everyone 5+ can now get vaccinated. Third dose of vaccines are available to anyone aged 18 years and older (as long as five months have passed since their second dose ), as well as for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, and people who are immunocompromised, health care workers, people with chronic conditions and people who had AstraZenaca as an earlier dose and are planning to travel. 
  • Vaccines for children aged 5 - 11 must be administered by AHS and booked online or by811.
  • Book your vaccine at www.alberta.ca/vaccine or by calling Health Link at 811, or call your local medical clinic or pharmacy. 
  •  For information about where to get immunized in Banff, visit: Vaccine Information
  • Rapid Testing at home is now available with kits from the Government of Alberta, available at some pharmacies and health centres.

Review all new restrictions on the Government of Alberta COVID website.

Businesses 

View current provincial restrictions at https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-public-health-actions.aspx

Relief measures for Albertans:

Financial support for Canadians from The Government of Canada:

Important updates from credible sources:

More resources for local organizations are provided below.

How to prevent spread 

 To help protect you and your family against all respiratory illnesses, including flu and COVID-19:

  • Stay home if you feel sick
  • Practice physical distancing always
  • Follow provincial guidance, including masking requirements
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds
  • When coughing or sneezing:
    • cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs
    • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands immediately
  • Avoid close contact (within 2 metres) with other people
  • Avoid situations where you are in close contact with people who may be ill or where transmission is most likely


Wearing  Masks

Follow current provincial masking requirements.

Choosing a mask:

Travel

Travel information: alberta.ca/covid-19-travel-advice.

For the latest travel health advice and requirements, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html

Filing a complaint

For complaints to AHS, submit to Alberta Health Services Complaint Form.

For an immediate response, the Town of Banff Municipal Enforcement staff accepts calls at 403.762.1218 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
After hours, please call the RCMP at 403.762.2226.

Actions taken by the Town of Banff

 (In reverse chronological order)

Late December 2021 -- the Town continues support services from its Help Desk. This team remains available for support or referral at help@banff.ca and is available in business hours at 403-762-1251.  The Town is evaluating whether to increase services and is contacting local groceries and pharmacies to determine the status of their delivery services.

With the increased rate of positive cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19, and changes to Government of Alberta testing protocols, the Town of Banff is:

  • advocating to Alberta Health to support Banff with isolation facilities, due to the increased risk to people living in shared accommodation;
  • advocating to the local private suppliers to increase testing capacity in Banff;
  • advocating to Alberta Health for additional provincial testing in Banff; and
  • advocating to Alberta Health for additional immunization clinics in Banff, through facilities or mobile (bus) clinics, and we maintain our offer to support space requirements.

The Town continues to provide masks to all residents, available at Town Hall, however, they are the older type of mask. The Town has asked Alberta Health for a supply of N95-type masks to replace the current supply provided by the Government of Alberta, due to new information about different levels of protection for certain masks.

December 29, 2021 -- the Town cancelled its New Year’s Eve events, even though they had been designed for COVID safety. Due to uncertainty around many aspects of transmission of the new variant, activities indoors and outside were cancelled out of the abundance of caution.

December 24-31, 2021 – the Town of Banff provides “We’re Vaccinated” window decals to businesses and organizations with mandatory staff vaccination policies

November 15, 2021 – Banff’s Emergency Coordination Centre officially stands down; last meeting of agencies was July 8, 2021. Banff’s Emergency Management Team continues operations, including weekly meetings with provincial health authority and local health providers

October 6, 2021 – Banff’s Mayor urges the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to extend the Rent and Wage Subsidy programs to support the struggling community. The programs are extended the following week, with a focus on tourism supports

September 15, 2021 – Banff’s Mayor urges the Alberta Minister of Health and the Premier to implement a vaccine passport-type system and implement measures to mandate proof of vaccination to access non-essential services. Later in the week, the provincial Restriction Exemption Program is announced

September 19 and November 8-9, 2021 – the Town commissioned a Vaccination Bus to provide additional opportunities for drop-in immunization

September 2021 – the provincial vaccine passport system, called the Restriction Exemption Program, is implemented in the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre

August 12, 2021 – the Town of Banff implements a mandatory vaccine policy for all employees

July 1, 2021 – the Town cancels many Canada Day events such as the parade and participant activities, but provides live music performances in multiple locations around the downtown to distribute audiences and provide safe experiences

July 1, 2021 – Town Council ends mandatory mask bylaw for outdoors in downtown core and indoor spaces, as Provincial Public Health Order implements mandatory mask requirement inside public spaces

May 18, 2021 –Banff’s Mayor urges the Government of Canada to extend financial support programs to recently started businesses that are unable to qualify for existing supports because they cannot show a drop in revenue compared to a previous year

May 12, 2021 – the Town of Banff mourns the death of resident Ron Giesbrecht, the first Banff resident to die from COVID.

May 2021 – The Town of Banff asks visitors to avoid travelling to Banff until after the May Long Weekend, due to the very high case counts in the community

April 30, 2021 – the Town of Banff closed Banff Avenue to vehicles to create a Downtown Pedestrian Zone, for the second summer in a row, to provide more space for pedestrians and more opportunities for safe, outdoor dining and retail

April 2021 – with an increase in COVID cases, the Town lobbies the Government of Alberta for more vaccine capacity in town, and provides the Fenlands Recreation Centre for mass vaccination clinics

April 12, 2021 – Banff’s Mayor asks local MLA to reconsider criticism of provincial safety measures implemented to control spike in cases

April 12, 2021 – the Town of Banff declines a proposal for the municipality to fund a rapid test program, and instead provides help to employers in the community in accessing free rapid test kits from the Province of Alberta

January 2021 – the Town of Banff holds property taxes 6.7% below pre-pandemic level in 2019. The Town returns the tax deferral and utility payment deferral programs.

January 15, 2021 – Town’s Emergency Coordination Centre ends State of Local Emergency and its extraordinary powers

November 30, 2020 – the Town of Banff opens and operates an isolation facility for residents who need to isolate but live in shared accommodation. The Town also lobbies the Provincial Government to expand testing sites in town, and successfully establishes AHS-supported private testing station added

November 22, 2020 – the Town suspends team sports, cohorted programs, and high-intensity fitness programs in Town facilities, and closed the Town’s drop-in family programs 

November – December, 2020 – the Town implements new restrictions on businesses, including reducing restaurant capacity by 50 per cent, requiring liquor and cannabis stores to close by 10 p.m. and expanding the area where outdoor masks must be worn to include all of Banff Avenue and more of the downtown core.

November 25, 2020 --the Town of Banff declared a State of Local Emergency to support enforcement of restrictions announced in the Government of Alberta's declaration of a Public Health Emergency. The State of Local Emergency also allows the Town to act quickly to address the changing situation, and implement additional measures to stop the spread of COVID. See News Release.

October 25, 2020 – Banff’s Mayor urges the Alberta Health Minister to allow Albertans to use the federal contact tracing app

August 2020 -- the Town of Banff starts participation in a project led by the University of Alberta and other research organizations to collect wastewater and examine for the presence of the COVID virus. This data (available at https://covid-tracker.chi-csm.ca/) is useful because it shows the trend in Banff and also includes visitors staying in accommodation (absent from case count data).

July 31, 2020 – Town of Banff implements mandatory mask bylaw for all indoor public spaces and outdoors in the busy downtown core

April 2020 – Banff Town Council cuts its overall tax levy by 17% to reduce impacts on individuals and businesses experiencing hardship due to COVID and impacts of the pandemic

March 17, 2020 -- the Town of Banff declared a State of Local Emergency. This provides authority to implement additional measures for the safety of the community.

March 13, 2020 -- the Town of Banff activated its Municipal Emergency Plan. The Town also activated its Emergency Coordination Centre. The move dedicates more resources locally to address this evolving situation.

For a summary of the first 100 days of the pandemic in Banff:

Banff and Lake Louise Economic Task Force
 
The Town of Banff, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism (BLLT), Parks Canada, and Banff & Lake Louise Hospitality Association (BLLHA) created the Banff & Lake Louise Economic Task Force in May to deliver a phased plan to safely and effectively re-open the economy in Banff National Park, with five specific objectives. The task force reports positive steps in the work this summer to rebuild the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, but believes more work is needed through the winter and beyond as the crisis presents significant risks to the communities.

The Town of Banff conducted a public survey in August 2020  to compile opinions, impacts and expectations related to the COVID pandemic. Read the full report:

Banff Avenue Pedestrian Zone
The 100 and 200 blocks of Banff Avenue were closed to vehicle traffic in the summer of 2020 and 2021 to provide more space for pedestrians to practice physical distancing, and to help local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Public health is the mandate of Alberta Health Services and the Province of Alberta. The Town of Banff is in daily contact with Alberta Health officials to provide support to the public health effort in Banff. The Town of Banff is responsible for ensuring essential services continue through an outbreak.

Other activities of the Town of Banff in year 1 (2020) include, in reverse chronological order:

  • Restarted the Help Team as part of Emergency Social Services support to the community, especially individuals required to be in isolation or quarantine
  • Declared State of Local Emergency in Banff to help enforce provincial public health emergency restrictions and to implement additional measures in Banff
  • Enforce new restrictions on social gatherings, occupancy limits and other measures implemented by Government of Alberta through public health emergency
  • Worked with AHS to increase COVID testing in Banff
  • Enforced provincial occupancy and gatherings limited to 50 people and closure of non-essential services
  • Established an Action Request form for residents to report concern over gatherings and non-essential businesses
  • Closed playgrounds
  • Created posters for businesses to post on doors about  closures, pick-up services, and entrance restrictions
  • Mobilized Emergency Social Services’ virtual reception centre - email support service with web page dedicated to local residents and phone help line
  • For property owners, the Town enabled residents and businesses to suspend property tax payments if they are on the monthly payment program and receive a refund on the first 3 months of payments made in 2020
  • Created print guide on safe health practices and resource info for seniors in Banff
  • Mobilized Resource Coordinator to determine status of businesses in Banff and if they have resources (like food and cleaning supplies) they can share, or if they have needs to maintain critical operations. Submit here.
  • Closed The Fenlands Banff Rec Centre and 101 Bear Street
  • Imposed restrictions on capacity of gatherings: 50% capacity, up to maximum of 50 (later included in Provincial restrictions as Alberta declares State of Emergency, and later revised to gatherings no more than 50 people)
  • Declared State of Local Emergency
  • Established virtual space for HR officers and managers in Banff to collaborate on resources and information
  • Cancelled events and courses and discouraged gatherings in the community
  • Activated the Emergency Coordination Centre
  • Activated the Municipal Emergency Plan

Impact on Council Meetings

  • All Council and Committee meetings will be conducted virtually via Zoom Meetings.
  • Public are encouraged to follow Council and Committee meetings using the live stream www.banff.ca/live
  • Public wishing to make a written submission may do so using by emailing the Municipal Clerk at Municipal.Clerk@banff.ca
  • Public wishing to speak are invited to contact the Municipal Clerk by email at Municipal.Clerk@banff.ca or phone 403.762.1209 to register and to receive further information
  • Members of Council and other Committees will be participating remotely


About coronavirus and COVID-19 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness in people, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses. Novel coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.

The disease caused by this strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) does not appear to be as severe as other coronaviruses, such as SARS. Many patients have reported only mild symptoms. There is person-to-person spread. Respiratory infections are much more likely to be caused by a common virus, such as influenza.

Spread

COVID-19 is believed to be spread mainly by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or with surfaces they have recently touched. COVID-19 does not spread like measles. It does not travel through the air over long distances and times. However, it can spread person-to-person by larger droplets, like from a cough or sneeze or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. 

Symptoms

Symptoms for COVID-19 are similar to those for influenza or other respiratory illnesses. Visit Health Canada for information on the most common symptoms.

What you should do if you think you could have COVID-19 

If you have symptoms or known exposure to COVID-19, you must self-isolate and contact 8-1-1 for directives.

For assessment and testing information, visit banff.ca/covidhelp.

How you can prepare

Keep yourself informed from credible sources of information, such as Alberta Health Services, Health Canada and the World Health Organization.

Sign up for emergency alerts from the Town of Banff to stay up-to-date.

Plan ahead and prepare an emergency kit for your home.

Alberta public health officials recommend the following ways to prepare:

  • Create a household plan of action. This can include these elements:
    • Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan.
    • Meet with family members, friends, neighbours and co-workers to discuss what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in Banff and how you can support each other.
    • Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications. This includes practical steps like ensuring you have sufficient medication and determining what supplies are needed, and if they can be delivered.
    • Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, health care services, support, and resources.
    • Create an emergency contact list.
  • Practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions:
    • Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick.
  • Be prepared if your child’s school or childcare facility is temporarily dismissed.
  • Plan for potential changes at your workplace.
    • Learn about your employer’s emergency operations plan.
    • Ask about what sick-leave policies and telework options are available if needed.
  • Stockpiling of goods is not recommended. While it’s always best practice to have three days worth of supplies on-hand, people should avoid purchasing food or other materials in bulk due to the impact on suppliers and people who have day-to-day needs.


Information Updates: