N.W.T. chief public health officer advises event cancellations, business closures due to COVID-19

The territory’s chief public health officer is advising that gatherings in the territory be cancelled and that certain businesses close.

Dr. Kami Kandola advises cancelling all gatherings and closing some businesses

In a press release sent on Sunday, Dr. Kami Kandola recommends that all gatherings be cancelled and that certain businesses close to help create social distance. (Walter Strong/CBC)

The territory's chief public health officer is advising that gatherings in the territory be cancelled and that certain businesses close, effective immediately.

In a release sent Sunday morning, Dr. Kami Kandola advised that all gatherings, no matter the size, be cancelled.

She also recommended that certain businesses close "as the nature of their operation will not allow them to have suitable distancing measures" to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The businesses recommended for closure include:

  • Tour operators
  • Bottle depots
  • Gyms and fitness centres
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Bars and night clubs
  • Theatres and movie theatres
  • Buffet-style restaurants
  • Personal service establishments (barber shops, hair salons, massage therapy clinics, nail and other salons)

Essential services such as grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores are not being recommended to close at this time. However, in the release, Dr. Kandola advises that employees and customers should be encouraged to keep two metres of space between one another and wash their hands.

On Saturday the territory announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19. 

It's the first case from all three territories, which were the last provincial and territorial jurisdictions remaining in Canada to report zero cases of the novel coronavirus.

Social distancing

The release said that these measures are to limit the spread of the virus through social distancing.

The chief public health officer recommends that people stay two metres apart, and limit the amount of people you come in contact with.

"Taking action to limit gatherings and these business operations will help protect all Northwest Territories residents — and especially the elderly and other vulnerable populations," said Kandola in the release.

'We are planning to move forward'

Carly McFadden, the executive director of the Folk on the Rocks music festival in Yellowknife, said as of Sunday, the festival will go forward as planned.

"We are planning to move forward. We're four months out from the event at this time so we do feel that there's time for change to happen with global health and we want to stay positive in that."

However, McFadden said this could change and the event may need to be cancelled at a future date.

The festival is also working on an "emergency strategy plan" to promote personal hygiene and social distancing throughout the event, said McFadden.