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March 17, 2020 11:18 AM

Town of Banff declares Local State of Emergency to limit spread of COVID-19

The Town of Banff has declared a State of Local Emergency to support the Province of Alberta’s efforts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This gives the Town the authority to impose restrictions on businesses and organizations within the Town of Banff. The Town does not have authority outside the town boundaries.

Effective immediately, all gatherings – in businesses and events – are to be limited to less than 50 people, including employees and customers.

The Town is imposing restrictions on properties to limit the capacity to 50% of their fire load occupancy, up to 50 people.

This restriction is enacted to ensure all organizations are are able to implement social distancing as advised by Alberta Health, with 2-metre distance between people, such as diners.

This restriction does not include grocery stores, transit, retail, pharmacies and health facilities, at this time.

The Town is notifying Banff night clubs that their dance floors are ordered closed until further notice, because it is too difficult for operators to control physical distancing.

“The decisions today were not taken lightly but they are critical to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen. “Banff is a community built on the hospitality industry. We know this will have a significant impact on businesses in town. But we have been in close contact with many establishments who agree that this is the right choice to put the safety of the people in our community as our top priority.”

The move aligns with measures announced in the City of Calgary, which is a Bow Valley neighbour where many of Banff’s visitors reside, and Government of Canada recommendations. The Town of Banff is working with local agencies and organizations to communicate with businesses in the community and to compile information about supports for employees that are being made available.

“Banff is a community that looks after our family of workers,” said Sorensen. “We have been advocating to the Province and the federal government on benefits for workers and support for businesses. We have struck a local task force with Banff & Lake Louise Tourism and the Banff & Lake Louise Hospitality Association to compile all information on emergency supports being announced by the Governments of Canada and Alberta over the next few days.”

The Banff Human Resources Task Force will also identify support services needed in our community.

At present, the capacity limits do not include offices, as long as staff can work with social distancing. The Town is asking employers to move toward remote-working wherever possible.

“All our Town services are still functioning,” said Chief Silvio Adamo, Director of Emergency Operations. “Our top priority is maintaining essential services and they are managing well. Water, sewer and power will keep running and streets and waste services are still serving our community. If people have an emergency, calling 911 will bring help from fire, police and ambulance. We are also still open for business for online services and payments in Town Hall.”

“There is no need to panic or worry that you won’t receive essential Town services.”

Mayor Sorensen said the measures are required to reduce exposure to all members of our community.

“We are aware that the restrictions on businesses will result in some closures. Other restaurants may offer take out or delivery services only. While it can seem extreme to have places we love close, this is in line with national directions on the need for extreme measures to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Sorensen. “Strong measures now will help lessen the impact locally, and with supports to people and businesses, we can get through this together stronger.”

For updates visit banff.ca/covid and alberta.ca/covid.

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