Riding out Covid 19 in Banff is no different to doing so anywhere else in the world. But there is a big difference for the town itself. As a tourist resort that attracts millions of visitors annually, most of the residents rely on the tourism industry for an income, and a large percentage of residents are young and seasonal. And so when the first closures began, many seasonal workers began leaving, selling up their furniture, saying goodbye to friends, and returning to their original hometowns. As of mid-April, it is estimated that the population of Banff has halved – from 9,000 to well under 5,000.
As for Covid 19 itself, there’s been a very limited number of cases in Banff (3, all recovered). Almost all hotels and restaurants are closed (including the Fairmont Banff Springs) and as Banff planning bylaws prohibit drive-throughs most of fast-food chains are closed. Non-residents are being turned around at the entrances to town by law enforcement. Here’s a few Banff Covid links that give an insight as to how various local organizations are approaching the need to discourage visitors from coming to Banff:
Two of Banff’s largest private employers are the Banff Lodging Company and Pursuit; Click on the company names and you can read about how they are alerting guests and the public about Covid 19. Many local companies have stepped up to help those in need, including the Pauw Foundation, which is supplying free and discounted meals.
As a Banff resident, the shutdown of tourism and the town is a unique experience. In 2013, floods cut off Banff from the outside world, but only for a few days, and with many tourists stuck in town the atmosphere was very different, almost party-like. Here is the usually packed Banff Avenue this morning: