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Banff welcoming visitors back as cases dip and vaccinations increase

Last Updated Jun 14, 2021 at 8:01 pm MDT

CALGARY — Albertans are being invited back to the popular mountain town of Banff after they were asked to stay away last month.

“We are just suggesting that it’s not the best time to be leaving your home and it’s not the best time to be in Banff, we still have a very high case count, we are a hotspot, and we just want to make sure that anyone who’s thinking about (coming to Banff), understands that,” mayor Karen Sorensen said in May.

WATCH: Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen asked visitors to hold off on making a trip to the popular mountain town ahead of the long weekend due to rising COVID-19 cases.

This plea worked, and Sorensen explains they now have almost no cases, with just three being recorded as of Sunday, and no one is in isolation.

“Almost 85 per cent of our population has had their first dose of vaccine,” she said. “So we are ready for business and first and foremost, really want to thank Calgarians and Albertans for rescheduling their travel plans so we could stop the spread.”

The town will continue to keep a close eye on provincial COVID-19 regulations, but Sorensen says it’s positive to see, country-wide, case numbers and hospitalizations trending down, signalling that vaccines are working.

RELATED: ‘It’s a very difficult message to send out’: Banff mayor requests people to stay away as weather warms up

“The continued comments about variants, which seem to keep popping up is concerning,” she said, adding they are cautiously optimistic.

“At this point, based on where Banff is sitting in terms of … case count and the number of our population vaccinated, we’re very excited, and we’re very, very hopeful that we can have a successful summer here.”

Sorensen explains they are especially excited as the pandemic has been ‘devastating’ to the tourism economy and therefore the town.

“The struggle has been significant in Banff, we are a town that was created as a tourism destination and we continue to have that as our economy,” she said, stating they have thought of ways to protect their residents and visitors.

This includes areas such as the downtown pedestrian zone, an outdoor patio that spans three blocks, allowing for physical distancing.

“We really encourage people to plan ahead, bring your hand sanitizer, keep socially distanced, wear a mask as long as we are asking you to wear a mask in our community, and we welcome you back with open arms,” she said.