BANFF – Five staff members partying after hours at a local pub have been slapped with a $1,200 fine for violating Alberta’s ban on indoor social gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to fines for violating provincial public health orders, charges were laid under the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act against the five adults for drinking beyond the establishment’s allowable hours during the April 9 after-hours get-together.
RCMP say the investigation has concluded and that the undisclosed business has not been charged, adding this is an isolated incident for this particular restaurant and bar.
“The ownership is not involved and actually is very proactive in trying to stop that. The owner has been quite proactive and helpful in terms of living up to his responsibility,” said Banff RCMP Staff Sergeant Mike Buxton-Carr.
“It was a cleaner who went in after hours and found staff consuming, and the cleaner had already been told by the owner if you find any activity like that you call me right away.”
Meanwhile, Town of Banff officials say safety ambassadors, municipal enforcement and RCMP continue to have heightened presence in the downtown core over the busier weekends.
Silvio Adamo, director of emergency management for the Town of Banff, said safety ambassadors reported less compliance with the mandatory outdoor mask bylaw last weekend (May 1-2).
“They are also seeing increased negative interactions and even getting negative comments from people, which is a little bit troubling,” he said.
“We are going to look at some different tactics to assist our ambassadors here.”
Banff’s municipal enforcement department spent time visiting patios over the weekend to remind restaurants, bars and cafés of the requirement to limit seating of patrons of the same household.
For the most part, officials say Banff businesses are following all public health requirements.
“To my knowledge, we don’t have any repeat offenders,” Adamo said.
“I think there’s either a misunderstanding or a breaking of the rules, they get penalized for that and they learn their lesson and they carry on.”
Councillor Peter Poole said it is good to hear that local businesses are generally following the rules, particularly in light of high profile violations of public health orders elsewhere in the province.
“You’re affirmation of that, plus the details that we’re actually going out and enforcing public health orders, helps reassure some people that we’re doing the part we can do as a municipality,” he said.
“We’re not being lax. We’re not looking away. We’re actually trying to enforce the public health measures.”
Over the past week, Banff’s municipal enforcement officers, which patrol public places like the recreation grounds, Central Park and Bow Falls, issued six violation tickets for large outdoor gatherings on public lands.
In addition, three warnings were issued for indoor social gatherings.
“To date, the RCMP have issued 34 public health violation tickets,” Adamo said noting, the $1,200 fine includes a $200 victim surcharge.
As of Tuesday (May 4), Banff had 104 active COVID-19 cases, with a per capita case rate of 773 per 100,000– down from being the province's COVID hotspot about two weeks ago when there were about 1,200 active cases per 100,000 people.