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No charges in Banff yet for violating COVID-19 public health orders

“There are still some people who may not know about the most recent restrictions, or are not taking the protocols seriously enough to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Banff RCMP
Banff RCMP Station. RMO FILE PHOTO

BANFF – Banff RCMP and the Town of Banff’s bylaw enforcement officers have issued several educational warnings to people about mandatory regulations in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 –  but have yet to lay any charges.

Restrictions of mass gatherings on businesses are now legally enforceable by Banff’s municipal enforcement officers, but officials say the focus remains on educating people about the ban on gatherings of 15 or more people and the two-metre physical distancing requirements.

They say compliance has been good so far in Banff, but hefty fines will be issued as needed now that the provincial government gave RCMP and community peace officers full authority to do so as of March 30.

“We are prepared to step in if required,” said Silvio Adamo, director of Banff’s emergency coordination centre during the pandemic.

“There are still some people who may not know about the most recent restrictions, or are not taking the protocols seriously enough to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

From March 27 until April 6, the Town of Banff’s local municipal enforcement department received 13 complaints, which were deemed to have been either unfounded, general in nature, or are still being investigated.

So far, there have been zero tickets issued by municipal enforcement or the RCMP.

According to the Town of Banff, the number of complaints and public education incidents evolved as new restrictions were implemented by the provincial government to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

“We have not received any notable resistance regarding the requests to comply with the social distancing regulations,” said Jason Darrah, director of communications and marketing for the Town of Banff. “No charges have been issued.”

Darrah said RCMP and Banff’s community peace officers attend all complaints and continue patrolling for gatherings, businesses and social distancing. 

“Complaints for non-compliance of required isolation will be referred to AHS,” he said, referring to Alberta Health Services.

“There have been no requests from AHS to enforce mandatory isolation orders in Banff.”

As of April 6, there were four complaints to the RCMP alleging public health order violations and an average of four incidents a day requiring the RCMP to educate the public. 

Darrah said, according to the RCMP, general compliance is currently good.

“Most complaints about physical distancing relate to people from a shared residence. Examples include people playing basketball or tobogganing for example,” he said.

“People from shared staff accommodation when the premise is one residence with shared kitchen/bathroom/living areas meet the definition for the exemption, but to the public, it appears to be a gathering of friends and a violation of the order.”

Meanwhile, Banff RCMP and community peace officers are patrolling in vehicles and on foot independently to practise physical distancing between themselves.

With fewer tourist-related calls, officials say that officers are dedicating more time to patrols to monitor property, and enforcement on gatherings and other social disorder issues. 

“Focus includes the business district, hotels, public gathering spaces, industrial compound and destination sites,” said Darrah.

“The increased enforcement presence is intended to deter crime, violations of health orders, and be available to the public.”

Residents are asked to report online to Alberta Health Services any concerns about people not following mandatory isolation requirements, or other risks of spread of COVID-19 at https://ephisahs.microsoftcrmportals.com/create-case/.

People can also Report a Problem online to the Town of Banff or call community peace officers between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 403-762-1218, or call RCMP after business hours at 403-762-2226. 

 

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