Mayor Natasha Kulikowski is asking residents of Inuvik to respect each other’s space and health and be mindful of social distancing after the town fielded a large volume of calls complaining about people being too close together in public spaces.
“If you are out at the store or wherever, please respect that six-foot or two metre social distance with anyone you come into contact with,” she said March 23. “Hand washing is super-important and for those folks who are isolating it’s important for them to know that they are allow to go outside and have some fresh air, but those people should not be interacting with others or making an emergency run to the grocery store.
“There is a group in Inuvik that is willing to those things for people if they get in touch. So it’s important to use that resource and contain anything that may be in our community.”
Kulikowski said it was important that a household sends a single person to collect groceries and not make it a family outing. She also asked residents to be mindful of boundaries set up in stores.
A second issue Kulikowski said was being brought up was people sending their children to parks, which she noted defeats the purpose of social distancing.
“It is recommended that you get out and get fresh air, and you can go as a family for a walk and things like that,” she said. “But as we well know kids touch basically everything in a park and then touch their faces and mouths and bring it back home with them. If we want to stop the spread of the virus we need to make sure we are not doing those things.”
So far there has been one confirmed case in the Northwest Territories and two confirmed cases in the Yukon. Travel in and out of both territories has been restricted to maintaining supply lines and essential services and anyone who is returning to the territory is required to self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival.
The town is providing accommodation through the Mackenzie Hotel for out of town residents unable to find a place to isolate.
Emphasizing that the town has only one chance to keep the COVID-19 virus out and the town was working with the Northwest Territories government to prevent the outbreak from spreading any further in the north.
“If we treat it as if it’s here, then we have a great chance of stopping it if it does come here,” she said. “If we start the social distancing now, we can have our systems in place so that if something comes to down, we already are aware of what we need to do to keep our neighbours safe.
“We absolutely have to take this seriously and stop socializing in groups. Don’t go to your friend’s house or have people over. If you are at the cabin, you should not be visiting cabin to cabin. It’s important that now there is a case in the NWT to make sure that we are not creating situations where the virus can spread.”