American tourists in Alberta? RCMP investigating possible breaches of COVID-19 restrictions

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American tourists in Alberta? RCMP investigating possible breaches of COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH: Banff RCMP are looking into possible violations of federal quarantine regulations in the mountain town. As Gil Tucker reports, while the border with the U.S. remains closed to most travellers, it appears some Americans are still vacationing here. – Jun 12, 2020

A vehicle from California, seen parked at a supermarket in Canmore Friday afternoon, is a sight that’s causing some concern in the Alberta Rockies.

And there have been similar sightings recently in Banff.

“It is strange that we are getting people across the border,” said Anish Yohannan, manager of Masala Authentic Indian Cuisine.

“I was talking to a few local businesses in town, and they were saying that we’ve had people come from Texas, Utah and California and all were saying they came to Alaska.”

This comes at a time when Canada’s border to the U.S. remains closed to most travellers because of COVID-19 restrictions.

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What role did international travel play in Alberta’s COVID-19 spread?

But the Canada Border Services Agency says there are exceptions.

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The agency sent Global News this statement:

“Healthy, non-symptomatic foreign nationals, travelling through Canada for non-discretionary purposes, such as to return home to Alaska, may transit through Canada.

“Only in circumstances where the traveller is considered to be transiting through to Alaska for a non-discretionary purpose will be admitted to Canada.

“The temporary restriction on all non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border has been extended until June 21, 2020.”

But it appears that some Americans are trying to get around those rules and Banff RCMP are investigating.

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“We are aware that there was a group of four people who claimed to be from Texas on their way to Alaska who were having supper in a local restaurant, who claimed to the server that they were not in fact on their way to Alaska, but were in fact having a holiday,” Banff RCMP Staff Sgt. Michael Buxton-Carr said.

Banff RCMP are asking businesses in the town to let them know if a similar incident happens again.

“We’re hoping the service providers can contact Alberta Health Services and the RCMP so that we can locate the travellers and determine if they are in fact people complying with quarantine or if there are violations,” Buxton-Carr said.

“There are enforcement provisions, but our prime goal here is to make sure that people understand what the requirements are for quarantine.”

Many restaurants and other businesses are just reopening, after being shut down for three months because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are starving for business here, and on one side of the fence, we would love to have (American tourists visit),” Coyotes Southwestern Grill owner Lucas Johnson said.

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“We can’t wait for them to come here, but only when it’s safe to do so. There are still massive hot spots breaking out all over the States – Florida has been hit really bad the last few days and we just don’t want that to happen here.

“Everybody just kind of needs to work together to make sure that we try to get from A to B as quickly and safely as possible, and that’s not going to happen unless people can follow the rules.”

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