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The Hay River Heritage Centre won’t reopen during phase one of the GNWT’s Emerging Wisely plan to ease restrictions created by the Covid-19 crisis.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

While the Hay River Heritage Centre remains closed because of Covid-19, it’s hoped that it will be open before the end of this month.

“We’d love to be open for Canada Day or before July 1,” said Tom Lakusta, chair of the Hay River Museum Society.

Normally, the museum is open before the Victoria Day long weekend.

The heritage centre, like many other indoor public facilities, was not permitted to reopen under phase one of the GNWT’s Emerging Wisely plan to ease restrictions imposed because of Covid-19 concerns.

However, phase two is scheduled to begin in mid to late June, and it would allow the reopening of museums.

“Phase two doesn’t have an exact start date, but the tentative start date is June 15,” said Lakusta. “It is during phase two that a museum would be able to open its doors, given certain conditions that it was able to meet.”

Lakusta said the museum society would like to try to meet the rules to reopen the Hay River Heritage Centre.

The possibility of reopening this spring or summer under the Emerging Wisely document was discussed at the May 20 meeting of the board of the Hay River Museum Society.

Lakusta said the board talked about whether it could meet the conditions for museums to reopen under the GNWT’s guidelines.

“It wouldn’t be a full summer, seven days a week, like it was last year,” he noted. “It would be some kind of truncated hours.”

The conditions include limiting the number of visitors, a separate entrance and exit, cleaning, ventilation and perhaps the use of masks.

The Hay River Heritage Centre has a large outdoor area featuring a variety of items.

“We wouldn’t open the outdoor before we open the indoor,” said Lakusta. “They would open at the same time.”

The chairperson also noted that the museum doesn’t anticipate the usual number of tourists this summer.

“So we’re expecting our visitation to be lower than previous years,” he said. “However, we think it’s really important for the citizens of Hay River to have a centre like this where they can come to.”

Last year, the Hay River Heritage Centre welcomed more than 3,000 visitors.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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