Calgary

Banff starts COVID-19 'checkstops' to dissuade visitors to Alberta mountain town

The mountain town of Banff, Alta., is usually bustling with day-trippers and tourists on weekends. But this long weekend, officials are asking visitors to stay away — and will be stopping vehicles to do so.

Long weekend day-trippers not welcome, officials say

Normally bustling Banff Avenue is quiet on a Friday afternoon in April. The mountain town reliant on tourism and visitors has seen disproportionate layoffs and business closures. (Dale Einarson/Banff & Lake Louise Tourism)

The mountain town of Banff, Alta., is usually bustling with day-trippers and tourists on weekends.

But this long weekend, officials are asking visitors to stay away — and will be stopping vehicles to do so.

The Town of Banff's emergency co-ordination centre has scheduled RCMP officers, peace officers and firefighters at two entrances to the townsite, at Mount Norquay Road and Banff Avenue at Compound Road.

Officers will be stopping drivers to remind them non-essential travel is being discouraged, and to ask them to turn around and go home. Drivers won't be denied access to the town, the municipality said in a news release issued Thursday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Banff particularly hard economically, as the community heavily relied on employment through the tourism industry, now-closed ski hills and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, which laid off most of its employees last month.

Residents, those travelling for essential work purposes such as trucking and those needing a fuel-up will all be directed into the community, Banff's emergency management director Silvio Adamo said in the statement.

"The Town of Banff is not closed," Adamo wrote in the statement. "Travel significantly increases the possibility of contracting COVID-19 and spreading the virus to others, and it is completely avoidable for most people."

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