Albertans and Canadians urged to wait until safety returns this summer
Banff Town Council has asked visitors to hold off on their plans to visit the mountain park destination, to help the area and Alberta stop the spread of COVID-19. The Banff and Lake Louise health region is experiencing high rates of transmission of the coronavirus, including the more contagious variants, and a three-week period of low visitation is aimed at improving recovery and allowing more people to get vaccinated.
“We want people to be aware that Banff is considered a hotspot due to the high case count in our small population, and now is not the best time to be leaving your home for travel here,” said Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen.
“Our town exists to welcome Albertans and Canadians to their first national park, so this is a very difficult message to send out. But with a small sacrifice now, if everyone stays close to home, we’re very hopeful that after the May long weekend, we will see cases stop rising and we will be able to welcome people back to Banff.”
Alberta Health Services identified the Banff health region, along with the Municipal District of Wood Buffalo as hotspots requiring additional attention due to recording the highest cases per capita in the province early this month. A task force dedicated to Banff increased the eligibility of vaccines for the Bow Valley population and expanded testing and isolation services.
Services in Banff are limited due to the provincial restrictions on businesses, such as no in-person dining and retail shops limited to 10% of normal customer capacity. A number of businesses in Banff have temporarily closed or modified operations as preventative measures or due to staffing shortages as people in the community isolate.
The town is following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who urged Albertans to stay close to home until we get through this third wave, and for everyone to “have as few interactions as possible with other people over the next few weeks.”
Banff is part of the Calgary Health Zone, which has the highest number of cases in Alberta and new cases continue to rise.
“We need people to help reduce the burden on health care workers and hospitals in this health zone, which are nearing capacity. This means avoiding activities in Banff that could result in emergency room visits, which could leave you waiting for care or bumping someone needing COVID care,” said Silvio Adamo, Director of Emergency Management for the Town of Banff.
The Town of Banff is also asking its residents to stay home to avoid sharing the virus with other communities, and to prevent bringing the virus back to Banff for transmission in the community.
“Banff will be here when we get through this third wave. We look forward to welcoming back our regional neighbours this summer after we stop the spread,” said Sorensen.