BANFF -- In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Banff's mayor has announced the declaration of a local state of emergency and the introduction of restrictions designed to reduce the likelihood of infection.

Officials announced the decision Tuesday morning and the restrictions on local businesses and organizations went into effect immediately.

The restrictions include:

  • Limiting capacity at businesses to the lesser of 50 people or 50 per cent of the fire load capacity.
  • Closing dance floors at local night clubs.

According to the Town of Banff, the dance floor closures are due to the fact it's "too difficult for operators to control physical dancing."

Grocery stores, offices, transit, retail outlets, pharmacies and health facilities are exempt from the capacity limits.

"The decisions today were not taken lightly but they are critical to help stop the spread of COVID-19," said Mayor Karen Sorensen in a statement released Tuesday. “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 town has created a task force with local hospitality and tourism and is currently compiling information about emergency supports to employees affected by the restrictions.

"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."

Silvio Adamo, the town's director of emergency operations, confirms that 911 emergency services will continue to serve the community, waste will continue to be collected and water, and sewer and power will keep running during the local state of emergency.