BANFF – No alcohol or cannabis can be sold in Banff after 10 p.m. until at least Jan. 25 in a bid to help keep COVID-19 case counts lower.
On Monday (Jan. 11), council unanimously voted to extend the municipality’s commercial restrictions bylaw, which was due to expire at midnight to coincide with lifting of provincial restrictions initially targeted for Jan. 11.
Municipal officials say this means cannabis and liquor stores must continue closing by 10 p.m., and restaurant and bars can’t sell alcohol beyond that time as part of their takeout pickup and delivery services.
With the Alberta government announcing last week that provincial restrictions will continue until at least Jan. 21, Councillor Chip Olver said the Town of Banff’s measures on alcohol and cannabis sale operating hours should also be extended.
“We also haven’t gone the 14 days from holiday celebrations, especially New Year’s,” she said, referring to the lag in time in discovering positive cases.
“I love where our case count is trending, but we’re not quite far enough along yet to be sure nothing’s happened from the holidays.”
As of Tuesday (Jan. 12), there were 15 active cases of COVID-19 in Banff and Lake Louise, down from a high of 191 at the end of November and high case counts continuing into December.
In neighbouring Canmore, there were 14 active cases. There are four cases linked to the COVID-19 outbreak at Origin at Spring Creek. Of these, one is active and two recovered. Sadly, a man in his 90s from Origin has died.
On Tuesday, the Alberta government reported 652 new COVID-19 cases province-wide, bringing the number of active cases province-wide 13,220. There are 819 people in hospital, including 132 in intensive care.
In a 24-hour period, there were 38 additional COVID-related deaths reported: one on Dec. 30, one on Jan. 1, one on Jan. 2, two on Jan. 6, one on Jan. 7, three on Jan. 8, seven on Jan. 9, 18 on Jan. 10, three on Jan. 11, and one on Jan. 12.
With COVID-19 still present in Banff, Coun. Corrie DiManno also supported extending the commercial restrictions bylaw until council’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Jan. 25.
“We’ve got lots of tools deployed here to keep our case count low,” she said.
“I think this is maybe a smaller one now that we see the bigger picture, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to keep it in play until other provincial restrictions also fall away.”
If council wants to rescind its commercial bylaw before its next regular meeting on Jan. 25, a special meeting of council can be called.
Mayor Karen Sorensen the Town of Banff is waiting to hear more information from the province, which has indicated that a week’s notice will be given on any changes to the provincial restrictions.
“We’re not quite out of the Christmas wave, so it’s good to do this,” she said.
Last week, Premier Jason Kenney extended provincial restrictions, including a ban on all outdoor and indoor social gatherings and closures or additional measures on many businesses, until at least Jan. 21.