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COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan

Take a look at our Health & Safety Plan, as we begin to reopen and (re)bound.

In light of the continuing COVID-19 Pandemic, Dark Sky Guides has developed, and continues to refine its own Health and Safety Plan and corresponding policies. See below for more, or download the official policy.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus: Take a look at our Health & Safety Plan, as we begin to reopen and (re)bound. The Plan and policies take into account suggestions and recommendations as outlined by local, provincial and federal organizations, including, but not limited to:

-Government of Alberta’s Workplace Guidance for Business Owners
-Government of Alberta’s Guidance for Interpretive Attractions
-Government of Alberta’s Guidance for Taxis, Limos & Rideshares
-Government of Alberta’s Guidance for Chartered Tour Buses, Multi-City Buses and Passenger Trains
-Government of Alberta’s Guidance for Outdoor Recreation
-Government of Alberta’s Guidance for Hunting & Fishing Lodges, Camps, and Outfitters
-Government of Alberta’s Guidance for Movie Theaters
-Alberta Health Services’ Hand Hygiene Information and Training
-Alberta Health Services’ Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance: Daily Fit for Work Screening Protocol
-Parks Canada’s COVID-19 and your visit to Waterton Lakes National Park webpage
-Waterton Park Chamber of Commerce’s COVID Resources and Information Letter
-Digitalis Education Solutions Inc’s Inflatable Planetarium Coronavirus Suggestions

DSG’s Health & Safety documents have been developed after detailed review of the above, as well as extensive, careful consideration of all aspects of company operations. DSG places the utmost value on ensuring a safe, healthy, immersive interpretive experience for all tour participants, as well as ensuring as protected a work environment as possible for guides.


1) General:

• At the time of latest update (May 8, 2021), Dark Sky Guides will offer various guided walking tours around Waterton Lakes National Park, with restricted group sizes, as permitted by the Alberta Government. The Dark Sky Guides’ 15-passenger tour bus will be utilized and operated in a manner consistent with Alberta Government restrictions. The Waterton Planetarium will become operational at a later date, to be announced.

• Please note, to ensure the safest and healthiest tour environment possible, Dark Sky Guides has made the decision that tours WILL NOT offer telescopes, binoculars or other optical stargazing equipment at this time, and until further notice. This decision has been made to reduce guests’ exposure to high-touch surfaces, and to avoid damaging the sensitive optics of the stargazing equipment from extra/additional cleaning/disinfectants.

• In the absence of telescopes and other stargazing equipment, all tours will instead focus on immersive storytelling experiences that will be augmented by naked-eye stargazing, and interpretation that encourages guests to explore with all of their senses.

• DSG strongly encourages all interested tour participants (“guests”) to consider booking private/custom tours so as to limit your exposure to others and maintain better social distancing, as well as allow our guides to offer a more personable 1-on-1 experience.

• Guests are strongly encouraged to bring/wear their own masks at any time during the tour (onboard the bus, or outside) where a minimum 2m distance cannot be maintained.

2) Admin:

• DSG again reiterates that it strongly encourages all interested guests to consider booking private/custom tours. We strongly encourage you to book a private tour for your single-household family or cohort family. By booking private tours, 2m social distancing will be easier to maintain and something to be less concerned about. The Alberta Government defines cohort family as “Members of one household can partner with another household to create a cohort family, up to a maximum of 15. This is an agreement to maintain physical distancing from everyone else. All members in a cohort must be completely committed to practicing physical distancing from people outside the cohort family... “

• If multiple, unrelated groups opt to book a regular tour (not recommended), which is considered to be any non-private/custom tour, the max group size will be 12 individuals (unless further restricted by the Alberta Government.

• Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, DSG had already utilized an online booking/reservation payment system, that requires all guests to complete their purchase online, in advance, eliminating any in-person (physical) payment concerns.

• DSG has eliminated the use of paper waiver forms; Guests are now required to complete an online digital waiver for each individual, prior to the start of the tour, using their own personal devices.

• We have updated our Payment/Reservation Policies, as well as our Cancellation Policies to be more accommodating during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic.

3) Outdoor Stargazing/Walking/Hiking Tours:

• Guides will frequently remind guests to maintain 2m physical social distancing whenever groups stop for interpretive moments/discussions.

• Guests are encouraged to maintain 2m physical social distancing while walking/hiking (length of two hiking poles).

• All guests are encouraged to bring their own hiking poles, headlamps, flashlights, binoculars.

• Guests requiring headlamps/hiking poles will have the option to use company equipment, which will be cleaned/disinfected prior to the start, and at the end of each tour.

• High-touch surfaces on all stargazing equipment (including telescopes, binoculars, iPad, etc.) will not be used, until further notice.

• Guests are encouraged to bring/wear their own masks

• Guides will have masks with them and will be worn whenever 2m social distancing isn’t possible or when other protective distancing measures are unavailable.

• Guides will have hand sanitizer (>60% alcohol) squirt bottles that guests will be asked to accept/use at the start of the tour; hand sanitizer will again be available at the conclusion of the tour and by request throughout.

• Due to the possibility that disposable plastic gloves can easily become compromised, and that frequently using disposable gloves goes against DSG’s other policies (e.g. plastics use and environmental sustainability), the use of disposable gloves is not encouraged.

• Appropriate hand hygiene (hand sanitizer or soap/water washing for 20+ seconds) will be required of Guides and strongly encouraged for guests.

4) 15-Passenger Tour Bus:

• The Dark Sky Guides’ 15-passenger tour bus is equipped with a plexiglass screen between guides and guests.

• As mentioned previously, it is encouraged that guests consider private tours, so as to have the entire tour bus to themselves.

• In the case that guests opt to book a regular tour (non custom/private), every effort will be made to seat single-family / cohorts together, and separate groups from other groups by 2m, there is the possibility that groups may be seated closer than 2m to each other. As such, it is mandatory for all guests to wear mask / face coverings while on the bus. If guests are not comfortable with this, they are more than welcome to provide their own transportation to and from location (you will be able to follow behind the Dark Sky Bus).

• Bus door handles will be wiped down with disinfectant before and after each tour.

• Bus armrests, seatbacks, headrests will be cleaned/disinfected at the start and end of each tour.

• A small garbage bin (with disposable bag) will be located on the bus for guests’ trash/rubbish and will be changed after each tour.

5) Waterton Planetarium (Tentative Policies, Subject to Change before Planetarium Opens):

• Each planetarium show will be a custom/private showing to single-family, or cohort family groups only, so as to maintain proper 2m physical social distancing.

• All planetarium shows will have staggered start-times, so as to off-set the arrival and departure of different groups, to minimize interaction between groups.

• Government recommended signage will be present around the facility.

• Directional lanes / 1-way floor markings will direct traffic into and out of the facility, to minimize the potential for interaction between different groups.

• Plexiglass screen will be located at the check-in counter.

• Doorknobs, countertops, waiting area chairs and other high-touch surfaces will be disinfected after each show.

• The interior of the dome planetarium will be ventilated and aired out appropriately between each show.

• Planetarium interior fixtures (floor, chairs, etc.) will be wiped down with disinfectant between each show.

• Guests are required to bring/wear their own masks

• Guides will have masks with them and will be worn whenever 2m social distancing isn’t possible or when other protective distancing measures are unavailable.

• Hand sanitizer (>60% alcohol) will be located at the entryway to the Planetarium where all guests will be asked to accept/use upon entering the facility.

• Guides will have access to handwash stations where they will be able to wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, should they prefer that method over hand sanitizer.

• Due to the possibility that disposable plastic gloves can easily become compromised, and that frequently using disposable gloves goes against DSG’s other policies (e.g. plastics us and environmental sustainability), the use of gloves is not encouraged.

6) Tour Participant (Guest) Responsibilities:

• Guests are responsible for bringing their own masks.

• Guests are encouraged to bring their own stargazing optics, if so desired (binoculars, cameras/tripods, etc.). For safety reasons, these optics should only be shared among those in a single-family or cohort family.

• Guests are strongly encouraged to download free stargazing apps on their smartphones, prior to the tour, because the DSG tablet equipped with stargazing apps will not be shared at this time.

• Guests are required to monitor their own health and well being and if they are exhibiting any symptoms associated with COVID-19 must alert DSG prior to the start of the tour and will not be permitted to take part in the tour.

• Guests must answer the following questions truthfully, prior to the start of the tour:

  • Have you returned to Alberta from international travel in the last 14 days?
  • Have you been identified as a close contact of a person who is confirmed as having COVID-19?
  • Have you had any of these symptoms within the last 10 days: cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat?

7) Daily Fit for Work Screening Protocols:

• Due to the uncertain, and ever-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, DSG has made the decision not to hire employees at this time; the only guides are the Robinson Brothers, all owners/operators of DSG, who take the health and safety of guests very seriously.

• Prior to each shift, guides will be required to complete a self-attestation Daily Fit for Work Screening Questionnaire and DSG will maintain the results of these on file.

• Guides that do not feel well or exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19 will alert the rest of the DSG management team and will not guide tours that day, and will abide by Alberta Government information on Quarantine and Isolation.

• In the unlikely event that a guide becomes ill immediately prior to the start of a tour and no alternative guide is available, Dark Sky Guides reserves the right to cancel the tour, for the safety and wellbeing of guests. If this happens, please review the Extreme Situations Policy, and the Cancellation Policy (Updated for COVID-19).