The Government of Alberta has confirmed 23 active cases in Improvement District No. 9 (ID9), which includes the communities of the Town of Banff and village of Lake Louise, resulting in the region moving to “Enhanced Status” on the Provincial Relaunch Status Map for the region. All regions with “enhanced status” face new restrictions faced by the Province of Alberta today.
(Technically, the “watch” status is no longer used because on Nov. 6, the Province of Alberta added restrictions on gatherings to communities that reach the “watch” threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 population, with at least 10 cases. Previously, “watch status” did not have any restrictions imposed. Therefore, the new restriction effectively lowered the threshold for a community to move to enhanced status where restrictions are applied.)
Starting Friday, November 13, people in Banff, Lake Louise and the rest of ID9 are required to follow new Provincial restrictions:
- a mandatory 15 person limit on social and family gatherings - indoors and outdoors - where people are mixing and mingling
- all restaurants, bars, lounges will be required to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. (from November 13 to November 27)
- non-essential visits or gatherings in residences are strongly discouraged
- any wedding or funeral ceremonies are limited to 50 seated and appropriately spaced people, with receptions where people mingle limited to 15 or fewer people
- all faith-based organizations are asked to limit attendance to 1/3 capacity at any service
- employers in office settings being encouraged to reduce the number of workers on-site at any one time, to limit the overall number of people in work places to reduce risk of transmission
“We are asking Banff residents to stop holding any house parties, private social gatherings in other facilities, and any get-together – big or small – where people are not maintaining physical distancing and not wearing masks. We must follow these new restrictions to stop the spread of the virus if we want to avoid further restrictions in our community,” said Silvio Adamo, Director of the Town of Banff Emergency Coordination Centre.
“It is clear that everyone must adhere to these restrictions and the basic safety protocols to prevent overburdening our health care facilities and keeping our community safe.”
The restriction of 15 or fewer people applies to all social gatherings, including, but not limited to:
- banquets and award ceremonies;
- wedding or funeral receptions;
- luncheons or potlucks;
- parties: birthdays, baby showers, retirement functions, dinners, backyard BBQs;
- other private social gatherings and functions.
This mandatory measure does not apply to structured events, including but not limited to:
- seated-audience conferences, sports and shows;
- dining in restaurants;
- fitness centres;
- funeral services;
- wedding ceremonies;
- worship services.
Additionally, all residents and visitors should adhere to the following measures:
- Limit your cohorts to no more than 3: your core household, your school, and one other sport or social cohort. Young children who attend child care could be part of 4 cohorts, given that child care settings have not been a high risk for spread.
- Wear a mask in all indoor work settings, except when alone in a workspace like an office or cubicle where you are safely distanced from others, or an appropriate barrier is in place.
Due to the increase in cases centred in Alberta’s major urban centres, additional measures were put in place, including a two-week ban on indoor group fitness classes, team sport activities and group performance activities in Calgary and the surrounding communities of Airdrie, Chestermere, Okotoks, Rockyview County, MD Foothills, and Red Deer. Banff/ID9 was not included in this restriction at this time.
“People in Banff need to take extra measures to avoid this type of restriction being imposed in our region. Everyone must behave as if they are COVID positive and people around them are potential transmitters of the virus, and follow the new restrictions,” said Adamo.
Banff Town Council will review the current COVID status, its mandatory mask bylaw and other potential measures that may be necessary in its next council meeting.
“We are thinking of the people who have tested positive in Banff and the Town offers our support to them, their families and employers,” said Karen Sorensen, Mayor of the Town of Banff.
“We also want to thank the individuals who have been notified of being in close contact with a positive case for being very responsible and isolating for 14 days – whether or not they have any symptoms – to stop the spread in Banff. Also, we salute employers in Banff for their diligence in having prepared rapid-response plans when a positive case occurs in their workforce, and for their highest standards of safety for residents, employees and visitors.”
Anyone who is in isolation who needs support with groceries, other essentials or help referral services are encouraged to contact the Town’s help team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 403-762-1251.
Responsibilities for individuals and employers
The Town is encouraging all individuals and employers to be aware of the need to track close contacts on a daily basis, and their responsibilities to notify people who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
Any individual who tests positive is asked to notify all people with whom they have been in close contact. They are instructed to inform:
- anyone who was in close contact in the two days leading up to when they became sick (or two days before they had a COVID-19 swab taken if they didn’t have any symptoms) and
- anyone in close contact any days since they started experiencing symptoms or after they had a swab taken (if they didn’t have any symptoms).
People should understand that a close contact is:
- anyone who was within two metres of a positive case of COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes, even if a mask was worn during that encounter
- a close contact is ALSO someone who has had direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who has COVID-19 (e.g., was coughed or sneezed on), or
- a person who provided direct care for a person who has COVID-19.
For sports that involve close, sustained or intermittent and repeated contact – which continues to be allowed in Banff at this time – all members of the teams playing each other are considered close contacts when there is a case on a team.
For more information about close contact, please refer to updated AHS information at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17199.aspx
If you are notified that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, go home or stay home in quarantine, take the self-assessment to determine if you need to arrange to be tested, and notify your employer. Assessment and testing information is available at https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx
If you are notified that you have tested positive for COVID-19, AHS supplies a script for phoning or an email template to send notifications to people who have been in close contact in the 2 days leading up to when you became sick or 2 days before you had a swab – if you did not have symptoms, and up to current time. Make sure to understand who is considered a “close contact” and the relevant time period; don’t notify everyone you know, as this will cause unnecessary concern and can overload health services. The scripting, templates and definitions are provided at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17199.aspx.
If you are an employer who has been notified that an employee has tested positive, you are asked to notify workplace close contacts of the employee to stay home or go home immediately, implement rapid-response cleaning and containment protocols, and communicate to all staff about the situation. The Town of Banff offers suggested scripting and templates for use in the notification process at banff.ca/COVIDbusiness.
To help our community stop the spread of the virus:
- download the ABTrace Together App. The technical issues have been resolved, no personal information is shared and it works. Visit https://www.alberta.ca/ab-trace-together.aspx for info and to download. (The province does not appear to plan to adopt the federal application at this time.) You can also use other methods such as notebooks to record your close contacts every day, so you are prepared in the event that you are tested positive.
- maintain a 2-metre distance from anyone not in your personal cohort or family
- frequently clean shared surfaces and wash or sanitize hands regularly
- wear masks in publicly accessible buildings, on Banff Avenue and Bear Street, and inside your place of work (except in closed offices or work stations with plexi-glass dividers)
- regularly self-assess for changes in your personal health condition. Individuals must not go into work and are legally required to self-isolate if they have core COVID symptoms listed at https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-testing-in-alberta.aspx and arrange to testing.
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) provides support for people who miss work due to illness or need to self-isolate.