Banff prepares for busy crowds this August long weekend

Banff prepares for busy August long-weekend amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: Banff National Park is expected to be extremely busy this long weekend. As Adam MacVicar reports, visitors should be patient, make a plan and wear a mask.

It is expected to be a busy August long weekend as many Albertans are expected to explore areas in their own province.

Parks Canada is reminding visitors heading to the Lake Louise area to plan ahead and be prepared to wait as it anticipates a busy long weekend.

“Expect a wait time of 60 to 90 minutes for a parking spot at Lake Louise and having to circle multiple times before being permitted access,” Breanna Ward with Parks Canada said.

Visitors are asked to maintain physical distancing at all times and if they’re unable to safely stay two metres apart, wearing a mask is advised.

Parks and tourism officials said visitation has been on par with last year. However, all the visitors are coming from Alberta or neighbouring provinces.

With many day trips planned, hotels in the area are seeing a lot of vacancies heading into the long weekend, a situation not typical for this time of year.

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Angela Anderson with Banff and Lake Louise Tourism is urging people to plan ahead and save themselves a headache.

“It may seem super straight forward to just get in your car and head out for a day trip, but to have the best experience, plan ahead and know what you’re going to do and check out the options,” Anderson said.

Beginning Friday, masks will be mandatory in Banff and will be required in all enclosed public spaces like shops, cafés and facilities. They will also be required outside in downtown Banff’s pedestrian zone on Banff Avenue.

Banff’s face mask bylaw includes indoor and outdoor spaces
Banff’s face mask bylaw includes indoor and outdoor spaces

Read more: Banff passes mandatory mask bylaw that includes outdoor areas

Two blocks of Banff Avenue have been closed to vehicle traffic since June to allow for physical distancing.

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Many popular destinations are expected to fill up early. There will be no shuttle service offered this year.

Visitors are also being reminded to leave no trace of garbage when visiting outdoor spaces.

Parks Canada said if garbage bins are full, it is the visitor’s responsibility to take their garbage with them and dispose of it when they can.