With many places set to start opening up again in the province over the next month, some Albertans may wish to get out and travel. One popular tourist town, however, is encouraging people to stay home.
The Municipality of Jasper is urging anyone planning a leisure trip to the Town, or Jasper National Park, before June 1st to cancel their plans.
While provincial parks are reopening, campgrounds and visitor services are still closed in Jasper National Park until further notice, as it falls under the federal government’s Parks Canada jurisdiction. The town is also still running in a limited-service capacity.
While tourism is their livelihood, Mayor of Jasper, Richard Ireland says travelers are being discouraged from visiting for at least another month as safety is a concern for the small municipality.
Mayor Ireland says he understands there is “pent-up” demand and people are anxious to come to Jasper, but with only one small hospital, he warns that an outbreak would devastate the community and keep people away longer.
The Mayor noted they are aware that the National Park may reopen before the end of May and the town will slowly start getting ready to welcome tourists again by reopening services and businesses, but they will take a gradual approach. He says they do not want to lose all the progress that has been made with regard to limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Only essential services currently remain open for those passing through town, and local law enforcement agencies are monitoring traffic in town, at local trailheads, and other points of interest.
When asked how the town has faired through the COVID-19 lockdown over the past month, the Mayor says despite the impact on tourism and the local economy, morale is still high and residents have done well with staying indoors and respecting the health rules.
Ireland says they will continue to follow Alberta Health’s lead this month with reopening the economy, and he says they will welcome visitors again with open arms once it is safe to do so.