Mask-wearing measures increase in Fort Smith, Fort Simpson

·2 min read

Mask-wearing is becoming mandatory in more and more parts of the territory as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country.

Though the N.W.T. has been little affected by the pandemic in comparison to most southern regions of Canada – there is one active COVID-19 case in the territory at present – towns are proactively implementing more protective measures.

In Fort Smith, masks became mandatory in municipal buildings on November 26.

“As the rate of infection continues to rise across Canada, we encourage all businesses and retail stores in Fort Smith to incorporate a mandatory mask-wearing policy in their place of business,” read the town’s notice.

“This added protection will help reassure the community that businesses are safe to access and continue to support local businesses.”

Meanwhile, in Inuvik, local businesses like grocery stores have made masks mandatory in recent weeks.

As first reported by the CBC, Fort Simpson last week unanimously passed a council resolution on November 23 to make masks more present in the village.

Sean Whelly, the mayor of Fort Simpson, said the village was recommending masks specifically in retail environments, which he called the village’s “main points of contact.”

“At five o’clock everyone goes out and starts shopping, and it was impossible to maintain that six-foot distance," Whelly said.

"We really wanted to highlight the importance of people putting those masks on."

Masks in Fort Simpson are not yet mandatory but are strongly encouraged.

The council resolution states: “Personal preference is not a valid reason to not wear a mask.”

Signs in place at Fort Simpson's Northern Store and Unity Store state the village highly recommends the use of masks. Masks have been mandatory at the village's liquor store since October 16.

Whelly said he believed the number of people wearing masks had increased by 40 to 50 per cent since the resolution was enacted. Free masks will now be given out, which he expected to lead to a further increase in mask-wearing.

Sarah Pruys and Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio