Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for Banff

Updated  7:40 a.m. April 2, 2020

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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) has declared the global outbreak a  pandemic.

 Learn about the number of positive cases in Alberta.

Learn about locations and demographics of Alberta cases.

Alberta Health Services has identified at least one positive case of COVID-19 in Banff, which is part of the Calgary Health Zone. Alberta Health Services is contacting all people who were in contact with individuals tested positive, and direct the individuals to take necessary steps to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Everyone in Banff must follow health protocols as if there are more local cases, and as if you are infected and need to stop the spread to others.

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

Critical new information:

The Province of Alberta has introduced new relief measures for Albertans:

New information from the Government of Alberta:

The Government of Canada has introduced financial support to Canadians:

A State of Emergency exists in Alberta. 
A State of Local Emergency exists in the Town of Banff.

Visitors are not allowed to enter  Banff National Park, unless continuing through on the TransCanada Highway, effective March 25, 2020, until further notice. This restriction does not apply to Banff residents.

Restrictions imposed under the State of Emergency include:

Temporary Closure of Non-Essential Businesses:

As a result of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at certain businesses and organizations across the province are prohibited. As of March 27, restrictions are in place for the following classifications of business:

  • Close contact businesses including hair salons and barbershops, tattoo and piercing studios, esthetic services, as well as wellness studios and clinics and non-emergency and non-critical health services provided by regulated health professionals or registered professionals including dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, podiatry, chiropractic and optometry services.
  • Dine-in restaurants are to no longer offer dine-in service.
  • Take-out and delivery services will continue to be available.
  • Non-essential retail services that fall into the categories of clothing, computer and gaming stores, and services in shopping malls and shopping centres such as hobby and toys, gift and specialty items and furniture.

Further details on business and workplace closures are available here.

Complaints
If there are situations where gatherings are happening in a business, a house or a park – where physical distancing is not being enforced – people can contact Alberta Health Services or the Town of Banff through these web complaint forms: 

Alberta Health Services Complaint Form
https://ephisahs.microsoftcrmportals.com/create-case/

Town of Banff Complaint Form
https://banff.ca/forms.aspx?fid=157 
Or call 403.762.1218 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

RCMP
After hours, call the RCMP at 403.762.2226

New Enforcement of Public Health Orders in Alberta

To protect the health and safety of Albertans, law enforcement agencies have been granted full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines for violations.

  • Travel Isolation – Any individual who has travelled outside of Canada must go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days from their return, plus an additional 10 days from the onset of any symptoms should they occur, whichever is longer.
  • Symptomatic Isolation – Any individual who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of their symptoms, or until the symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. Symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or a sore throat.
  • Close Contact Isolation – Any individual who has been identified by as a close contact of a person(s) with COVID-19 must go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days from the date of last having been exposed to COVID-19, plus an additional 10 days from the onset of any symptoms should they occur, whichever is longer.
  • Mass Gatherings – Mass gatherings must be limited to no more than 15 attendees.
  • Access to public recreational facilities, private entertainment facilities, bars and nightclubs is prohibited.
  • Mass gathering restriction violations are now legally enforceable and subject to fines.
  • Facilities under this order include all nursing homes, designated supportive living and long-term care facilities, seniors’ lodges and any facility in which residential addiction treatment services are offered under the Mental Health Services Protection Act.
  • Care Facility Visitation – Visitation to long-term care and other continuing care facilities is limited to essential visitors only.
  • If you are self-isolating: 
  • stay home - do not attend work, social events or any other public gatherings 
  • avoid close contact with other people, including household members but especially seniors and people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems
  • don’t take public transportation like buses, taxis or ridesharing, where possible 
  • watch for symptoms
  • If you are in mandatory self-isolation: 

  • Do not go to school, work, other public areas or community settings.

  • Do not go outside for a walk through your neighbourhood or park. This includes children in mandatory self-isolation.

  • You can get fresh air in your backyard, if you have one, but must remain on private property not accessible by others.

  • If you live in an apartment building or high-rise, you must stay inside and cannot use the elevators or stairwells to go outside. If your balcony is private and at least 2 metres away from your closest neighbour’s, you may go outside on the balcony.

  • This directive is consistent with the new federal requirements under the Quarantine Act.

Fines now administered through tickets for violating are $1,000 per occurrence. Courts will also have increased powers to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations. Visit Alberta.ca for more information.

Provincial Parks: Vehicle Access to Alberta Parks and Public Lands Temporarily Closed

Effective March 27, automobile access at access points to all provincial parks as well as provincial recreation areas is temporarily closed. The suspension applies to motor vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas.

The restrictions do not apply to forestry or oil and gas operations and access for First Nations and identified Métis Harvesters.

Albertans who choose to access the Province’s parks and recreation areas should follow the advice of government health experts on physical distancing and public gatherings. Enforcement officers will be doing routine checks in provincial parks and on public land to support education and awareness on the temporary closure. Officers can issue fines for non-compliance, if required.

No Parks staff are currently supporting facility operations so visitor safety cannot be ensured. As improperly disposed garbage and waste has the potential to draw wildlife, fines of up to $250 for littering will be issued to users who dispose of garbage improperly.

Visit Alberta Environment and Parks for more information on the response to COVID-19.

Gatherings and Events

List of Essential Services exempt from closure restriction: https://www.alberta.ca/essential-services.aspx 

  • Mass gatherings are now limited to no more than 15 attendees. 
    • This includes: parties, conferences, worship gatherings, open spaces such as trails, fields and parks, and family events such as weddings and funerals.
    • This does not include: grocery stores, pharmacies, health care facilities, airports, the legislature and other essential services.
  • Albertans are prohibited from attending public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities.
    • This includes gyms, swimming pools, theatres, arenas, science centres, museums, art galleries, community centres, children’s play centres, casinos, entertainment centres.
  • Dine-in restaurants are to no longer offer dine-in service.
    • Take-out, delivery or drive-through service is permitted.
    • Licensed facilities are permitted to deliver liquor.

Hotels are not included because guests are able to avoid large gatherings in their rooms.

The Town of Banff has cancelled all Town-organized programs, courses, and events that gather members of the public, in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Town has closed Town Hall, the Fenlands Recreation Centre and the 101 Bear Street facility to the public. These measures focus on maintaining essential services while ensuring safety for employees and the public.

Visiting Seniors

Individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19. To prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, among seniors and vulnerable groups:

  • Visitors to any continuing care or long-term care facility in Alberta are limited to a single individual designated by the resident or guardian.
  • Each essential visitor must be verified and undergo a health screening prior to entering the facility. This may include a temperature check or a questionnaire.
  • Facilities must have security staff or a greeter to conduct this screening and verify the visitor is designated.
  • Exceptions to these essential visitor rules will be made for family members to visit a person who is dying, so long as only one visitor enters the facility at a time.

For more information on visiting long-term or continuing care facilities, visit https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17001.aspx#ltc 

Travellers

  • The federal government has banned entry to Canada for all travelers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Only asymptomatic Canadians or permanent residents can return.
  • Canada’s borders are now closed to non-essential crossings. This excludes transport of food and goods.
  • The Government of Canada has put in place emergency measures that require mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all persons entering Canada, even if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. For more information, visit the Travel Advice page on Canada.ca
  • Returning travelers are restricted from taking public transportation (buses, trains, etc.) to return to their place of self-isolation.
  • Incoming international flights will go to four airports: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. Canada will continue to receive important goods.
  • Alberta Health Services directs people who develop symptoms – cough, fever or difficulty breathing – to isolate in temporary accommodation and complete the online COVID-19 self-assessment then call Alberta Health at 8-1-1 if advised. Do not go to the hospital or a doctor’s office.
  • All recent travellers should visit daily updates of information for airline passengers. Flights that have confirmed cases and the affected seats will be posted online as information is confirmed

If you recently returned from travel outside Canada or have symptoms of cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing:

All Albertans who are currently outside the country are to self-isolate for 14 days after they return from being outside Canada, and monitor their condition.  If they experience symptoms of fever or cough, they should call Health Link at 8-1-1 for assessment.

The Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada advise against travelling outside Canada. Health care in other destinations may not be reliable and re-entry provisions may change.

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

Schools

  • All Classes in K to 12 schools are cancelled until further notice
  • All Grade 6 and 9 provincial achievement tests and grade 12 diploma exams are cancelled
  • School authorities will offer at-home learning opportunities for all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students
  • All licensed childcare facilities, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs are closed indefinitely, with the exception of centres for the children of essential workers. 
  • Approved day homes (up to 6 children, excluding operator’s children) are exempt because they care for small groups. These programs must follow enhanced sanitation practices.

More 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:

Actions taken by the Town of Banff

On 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.

On 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.

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.

The Town of Banff has (in reverse chronological order):

  • Enforcing provincial occupancy and gatherings limited to 15 people and closure of non-essential services
  • Established 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 closed/pick-up service/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, Town Hall 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 15 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

Cancellations, program changes and closures

The Town of Banff has cancelled all Town-organized programs, courses, and events that gather members of the public, in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The measure is part of the Town’s focus on maintaining essential services and to follow health advice for employees and the public.

Town events and activities that have been scheduled to occur within the next 60 days are cancelled, including the closure of the public gallery for Council and Committee meetings. Special Council meetings will limit public participation only online.

Cancelled:

All course, classes and programs with gatherings. Access support through email: help@banff.ca 

Closed:

  • Banff Public Library and all programming
  • The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre and all programming
  • 101 Bear Street and all programming 
  • Town Hall closed to public
  • All playgrounds in the Town of Banff

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 most common symptoms.

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

Self-isolate and call 8-1-1 for assessment if you believe you have been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

If you are returning or visiting from outside of Canada, you should closely monitor your health while in self-isolation for 14 days.

  • If you start experiencing a fever or cough, even if it is mild, please self-isolate yourself immediately and call 8-1-1.
  • Do not go to an emergency department, urgent care centre, or family doctor’s office for initial assessment or testing.

More Resources:

Health Link officials at 8-1-1 will assess you and determine actions required.

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 at this time. 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.

What should you do about an upcoming event/gathering you organized? 

Large gatherings can contribute to the transmission of respiratory pathogens, such as COVID-19. The Government of Alberta has mandated that all public and private events or gatherings with more than 15 people must be cancelled. 

As a result of the limitation of mass gatherings to a maximum of 15 people, AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis) has temporarily suspended the special event licensing application process on its website. 

People who had planned to host private events and had already purchased special event licences may apply for refunds by emailing sel@aglc.ca or visiting aglc.ca for more information.

Information Updates: