Banff votes to make masks mandatory in indoor public spaces, outdoors along main street

Masks will be mandatory in the town of Banff's indoor public spaces, as well as outside along Banff Avenue — the town's main street — starting Friday.

Those who fail to wear a mask could be fined $150

Masks will be mandatory outdoors along Banff Avenue, and in all indoor public spaces in the town, as of Friday. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Masks will be mandatory in the town of Banff's indoor public spaces, as well as outside along Banff Avenue — the town's main street — starting Friday.

Town council voted unanimously to pass the bylaw on Monday.

Cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise in Alberta in recent weeks. There were six active cases in the Banff area, out of 1,430 in the province, on Monday.

The decision follows in the footsteps of other cities like Calgary, Toronto and all Quebec municipalities, but it's believed to be the first in Canada to mandate wearing masks in an outdoor pedestrian zone, a town spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The pedestrian zone was created by closing a portion of Banff Avenue to vehicle traffic, giving those on foot more space for physical distancing.

The mask bylaw will include outdoor restaurants in that area, while people are not eating or drinking. 

"Modelling has shown that if 80 per cent of the population can be masking most of the time, that is enough to contain community spread," Dr. Amy Tan told Banff town council on Monday. 

"If I'm wearing a mask, I'm protecting the person next to me."

Mayor Karen Sorensen said Banff is hoping to create a culture where wearing a mask is the norm.

"Unusual circumstances sometimes call for unusual actions," she said. 

The bylaw excludes schools, hospitals, day cares, and people with underlying health conditions or who are participating in sports. The masks will be required to cover the wearer's mouth, nose and chin.

Businesses will have to post signage informing people of the bylaw and provide hand sanitizer at entrances. 

Those who contravene the bylaw could be fined $150.

Giovanni Samuel, who was visiting Banff from Ontario on Monday, said he's noticed a stark contrast in how people are responding to the pandemic between the two provinces, saying he notices more enforcement of mask wearing back home. 

"I think [wearing masks], it's really necessary because of the time that we live in," he said. 

With files from Charlotte Dumoulin


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