As restrictions lift, facilities and restaurants in Inuvik begin to ease back to normal

Inuvik residents can look forward to a return to in-person dining after a year of take-out, and more options for gatherings and physical activities.

Fitness centre will no longer require appointments as of later this month

A view of the Midnight Sun Recreation Complex in Inuvik, N.W.T. The fitness centre will soon allow more people back inside and will no longer require appointments. (David Thurton/CBC)

As pandemic restrictions start to ease, communities are beginning to phase back into their normal routines.

In Inuvik, that means a return to in-person dining after a year of take-out, and more options for gatherings and physical activity.

In just over a week, Inuvik's fitness centre will no longer require appointments, and more people will be allowed inside. 

"We had to take out equipment so that everybody could be socially distanced... and they had to revert to timed appointments. We could only monitor so many people at each time," said Lise Saumur, director of community services.

Now, the guidelines from the chief public health officer allow 200 people inside most venues. 

The centre, which is located on the top floor of the Midnight Sun Complex, is now able to have 200 people per floor, says Saumur.

Appointments 'booked quite quickly' during pandemic

When the pandemic hit, some Inuvik residents decided to stop using the centre altogether. 

But Saumur says it remained an important outlet for others — especially because the gym at the school, which hosted activities like volleyball, basketball and badminton, was closed. 

"COVID had everybody bound in the house… so the gym was an avenue for them to try and keep their lives on track," she said. 

Initially there were only 50 appointments available per day, which Saumur says filled up quickly. That number later rose to 72. 

"Even today, the evening appointment slots get booked quite quickly," said Saumur.

Members will have to come in to re-fill out forms and get their cards reactivated as part of the switch back to normal. 

"We've basically got to get all of our customer information from people again. It will be a bit of work, but in the long run for us the customers will be so happy, that's key," she said. 

The goal is for members to begin accessing the fitness centre door with their card, instead of going through the front of the complex, as early as next Friday. 

The patio at Alestine's in Inuvik has reopened as the community begins to embrace lifting restrictions. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The pool, which requires repairs, is not going to be opened till early fall at the soonest. 

Squash bubbles will also pop, and masks are no longer required in town facilities beginning this week.

Saumur also said the Midnight Sun Complex will go back to nearly-normal regulations, with the curling side of the complex returning to pre-pandemic operations. 

The Inuvik Centennial Library, which was set at a capacity of 20 people early in the pandemic, can now have 40 to 50 people who don't need to socially distance. Public washrooms are reopening as well. 

Away from town facilities, residents have also noticed that after months of waiting for in-person dining, they now have a couple of options.

Alestine's opened up their outside patio to diners at the end of June, and Shivers Lounge in the Mackenzie Hotel opened to patrons this week.