For the long weekend, the Town of Banff Emergency Coordination Centre will be implementing educational public health checkstops at the Town’s entrances in an effort to keep people safe and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
With increased health protocols announced by the Government of Alberta and with guidance from the Chief Medical Officer to stay home this weekend, the checkstops will be focused on increasing drivers’ awareness about the importance of avoiding travel and visitation to Banff, except for essential highway travel.
“The Town of Banff is not closed. But these checkstops will inform people who are still unaware of the clear direction from all orders of government to stay close to home, in order to limit the risk of coming in contact with COVID-19,” said Silvio Adamo, Banff’s Director of Emergency Management. “Travel significantly increases the possibility of contracting COVID-19 and spreading the virus to others, and it is completely avoidable for most people.”
Bow Valley residents, essential services such as trucking of food, trades, transportation services, and those requiring essential services such as refuelling while travelling through the national park, will be directed to proceed into town.
The checkstops – staffed by RCMP, Banff Community Peace Officers and Firefighters – will inform visitors seeking a day-trip in the Banff townsite about the public health directives such as the advice against non-essential travel, and they will be encouraged to return to their home community.
“The Town of Banff relies on visitation for our economy, and we feel people from the Calgary region are part of our community – this is their backyard getaway. But now is not the time for travel,” said Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen. “We want people to stay home, for their safety and for everyone in the region.”
The checkstops will be located at the entrances to town, immediately south of the TransCanada Highway at:
- Mount Norquay Road entrance to Banff
- Banff Avenue Road at Compound Road
The checkpoint personnel will stop vehicles to ask if they are Bow Valley residents. If the occupants are not local residents, they will be provided information, but won’t be denied access to the townsite.
Visitor numbers to the Town of Banff have steadily decreased over the past few weeks, as more people understand the seriousness of the COVID crisis. The checkstops are a precautionary measure in case the holiday weekend inspires people to seek out trails, mountain wilderness and the charm of the Banff townsite.
“The Town of Banff has very few stores open, and those that are operating are providing essential services to residents,” said Sorensen. “It would be very unfortunate if a visitor gets stuck without access to supplies here. And anyone thinking about venturing onto trails or a spring hike should think twice about taking a risk of injury or accident that could divert medical professionals away from battling the virus.”
“The most important thing for people to know is we look forward to welcoming our neighbouring communities back to their mountain escape – when we are through this pandemic.”
Officers staffing checkstops will maintain 2 metre distancing from drivers’ windows and be positioned to avoid close proximity.
During the unprecedented health crisis, all Canadians are being asked to stay close to home, where they have familiar support networks and services. People are encouraged to avoid gatherings, wash their hands frequently, maintain 2 metres distance from others – inside and outside, and regularly sanitize homes, vehicles, groceries, and any other surface that can spread the virus.
For more information, please visit banff.ca/COVID.