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As COVID-19 restrictions slowly lift, tourists roam the main street of Banff, Alberta, June 5, 2021.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

The country’s busiest national park officially reopened last week to visitors seeking back-country hikes and Banff dining opportunities.

Banff National Park, which sees 4 million visitors annually, has been riding the roller-coaster of COVID-19 waves with outbreaks and complete drops in tourism dollars, which the town of Banff relies on.

“It’s been such a strange and difficult year,” said Amber Wanless of the Canada House Gallery in downtown Banff. “We are all hoping this will be the last lockdown.”

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Kirsten Gartshore moves art by Bill Brownridge to show clients in Canada House Gallery in downtown Banff.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Despite the vacancy signs lining the hotels on the main drag of Banff, businesses and restaurants are starting to see more people coming out on the weekends.

Restaurants are seating people only on outdoor patios, most requiring a dinner reservation. Hotels like the Rimrock are patiently waiting for dining to happen indoors, according to the general manager.

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People dine out for lunch on Melissa's patio on the main street of Banff.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Again this summer Banff has taken steps to keep guests safe this summer, closing down Banff Avenue to vehicle traffic allowing patios to set up shop on the main drag and allowing only masked pedestrians.

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People ride their bikes on the main street as it's now blocked off to vehicle traffic.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

There are also more officials patrolling Banff monitoring parking and making sure guests maintain proper physical-distancing rules.

Stores are currently limited to the number of patrons based on their size.

The town is also looking at spending $175,000 on landscaping and traffic control to make it more pedestrian friendly according to local media reports.

“We’re all hoping for a more normal summer this year,” Ms. Wanless said.

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Tourists take a ride in a horse and carriage on the streets of Banff.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

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