Chief Public Health Officer advises NWT residents to cancel public gatherings

NWT Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola. (CKLB file photo.)

The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) is advising residents and organizations in the Northwest Territories to cancel all gatherings effective immediately.

Dr. Kami Kandola is doing so to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

She says the size of the gathering is irrelevant as is whether they are held inside or outside.

The advisory includes but is not limited to the following events/groups: 

-Organized outdoor and indoor events (jamborees, spring festivals, hamlet days, etc) 

-Religious services/churches (including funerals and weddings) 

-Recreational facilities/indoors (arenas, pools recreational centre, youth centre, gyms) 

-Bingos/Chase the Ace 

-Community centres

The CPHO is also recommending that the following businesses be closed as the nature of their operation will not allow them to have suitable distancing measures in place to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19: 

-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, hair salons, massage, nail and other salons)

Objective of Advice

1…The CPHO recommends social distancing of 2 metres to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Social distancing means limiting the amount of people you come into contact with, which lowers the risk of passing or catching the virus.

Organized gatherings (indoors or outside) and businesses where clients and workers cannot maintain the 2 metre distance separation are a significant source of spread of COVID-19.

Social distancing of more than two metres apart becomes challenging, healthy respiratory practices may not always be followed, and more bodies with more time near each other means more chance of spread of COVID-19.

2…Taking action to limit gatherings and these business operations will help protect all
Northwest Territories residents — and especially the elderly and other vulnerable

Who Can I Contact For Advice?

If you’re business or event or gathering type is not listed in above you can contact
environmental_ to request advice.

Please ensure you provide a phone number, community name and some brief details of your event or business in your request email.

The email address is monitored regularly from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday.

Public health officials will get back to you with advice as soon as they can.

Important Note

If you feel sick, you should not go to any gathering of any size — stay home.
If you develop fever, cough, or other flu-like symptoms during this time period, contact the
 Yellowknife: 867-767-9120
 Inuvik: 867-490-2225
 Fort Smith: 867-872-6219 or 867-872-6221
 Hay River: 867-874-7201 (8:30 to 16:30). After hours, please contact the Emergency
Department at 867-874-8050.
 For all other communities, see
They will talk with you about your symptoms, and advise you what to do next. Do not go in
without calling.
If you develop severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing call 9-1-1.

Implications for Businesses

Personal Services Establishments (massage, salons, barbers and tattoo parlors and piercers)
should be closed until further notice as they cannot operate and provide for the two-metre
separation required to be safe and they by nature require more time than a casual time
limited contact.

It is recommended businesses that require clients and staff to have close contact (less than two meters) close at this time or take steps to limit how close persons may be to one another.

Essential services large retail stores (groceries, gas bars and convenience stores) can remain
open if they can maintain two-metre separations between persons within the facility.

They should also strongly encourage employees and customers to keep a distance of two metres
between each other, including in line-ups, wash their hands with soap and water for at least
20 seconds frequently, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content frequently.

About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.