'Stay close to home' urges Alberta's top doctor, Banff discourages visitors
CALGARY -- Alberta public health officials are discouraging travel as the next few weeks are critical to help bring the pandemic under control.
The guidance comes as certain regions of the province have been designated as COVID-19 hot spots while others have few active infections.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, is "strongly encouraging" people to avoid leaving their home communities for recreation purposes but the province has not brought in regional travel restrictions similar to those in British Columbia or the Maritime provinces.
In a move that would normally appear counter-intuitive for a tourism destination, Town of Banff officials are asking visitors to postpone their mountain getaways.
According to the town's website, out-of-town travel is discouraged and visitors cannot stay in other people's homes while these restrictions are in place, regardless of where they are coming from.
Neither the town nor the province have asked for the introduction of highway checkstops to ensure compliance.
Alberta Health Services says there are currently 93 active cases in the region the includes the Banff townsite and Lake Louise.
Drumheller has fewer restrictions in place as its active case count falls below the threshold designated by the province, but there are significant concerns that visitors from hot spots will head to the badlands town in search of normalcy.
The latest restrictions, introduced earlier this week, are in place in areas with 50 cases per 100,000 people and a minimum of 30 active cases.
Alberta's top doctor says the next few weeks are critical.
"This (is) a very important time where we're minimizing the spread of COVID-19," said Hinshaw. "I would encourage people not to travel outside of their home communities for recreational purposes and to stay close to home if at all possible. And certainly, it's really important that wherever people are they're following the rules in place."