Michelle Schaub's first order of business as the Riverview Theatre's new manager was to get it up and running again.
She went back to her job at the movie theatre in June, four months after it closed down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theatre welcomed its first small group of excited movie-goers on Aug. 14 — making Schaub's goal a reality.
"'They were like, 'I'm so glad we can go to a movie again!'" Schaub said with a laugh.
"Everybody's just happy to do something that isn't just going to work and coming home."
Community spaces like the Riverview Theatre are slowly reopening their doors to Hay Riverites after months of buckling down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Schaub, it's a relief.
"It's just nice to see things going back, I know it's a new normal, but back to normal," Schaub said.
Open with restrictions
The theatre operates a little differently in the COVID-19 era.
Customers have to sanitize their hands once they come into the building. Once they get to the theatre on the third floor, masked customers tell a masked worker behind a plexiglass screen which seat they want. A handful are available — the rest are blocked off with red duct tape.
Four red stickers on the floor remind customers where to stand to maintain physical distancing at all times.
For us to be able to do this, it means the world to me. - Michelle Schaub, manager of the Riverview Theatre
Staff take turns sanitizing every knob, light switch and dispenser in the theatre during the night.
But Schaub said the changes are worth it.
"For us to be able to do this, it means the world to me," Schaub said.
Library opens its (screened) doors
A few blocks from the theatre, a sign saying "We've missed you!" is posted on the N.W.T. Centennial Library's front door to remind book lovers that their doors are open.
The library opened for the first time on Aug. 10, after closing down in March.
I know what a loss it's been for some people. - Christine Gyapay, Hay River's head librarian
Head librarian Christine Gyapay said she's never seen the library closed for longer than a day.
So, she's "thrilled" to see the physical space opening up again.
"I know who comes and uses the library, I know what a loss it's been for some people," Gyapay said.
Things are different inside the library too.
A staff member screens everyone who comes in, asking if they have left the N.W.T. and if they have symptoms of COVID-19. They will be let in, as long as there's only three people maximum in the library at one time.
Half-hour appointments have to be made to use one of two computers or the photocopier.
The bookshelves, covered in plastic wrap, are closed to public browsing for now. Staff go and search for books on request.
The library is also hosting outdoor events like the Great Book Checkout — a pop-up library with new books and DVDs all over their lawn. The first one is happening Aug. 21 to 22.
Physically-distanced tours of museum
On the other end of town, Tom Lakusta and Chad Kruger get ready to welcome tourists to the Hay River Museum Society Heritage Centre for quick 15 minute tours.
The 20-year-old museum normally hosts 10 to 15 events during the summer, including briefings on the Franklin expedition, ladies night and summer tea.
Lakusta, the chair of the Hay River Museum Society, said all of that has been lost during summer 2020.
"I think people's lives are not quite as rich," Lakusta said. "Those people that do like coming to the museum, they kind of book it for themselves as something they're going to do over the summer."
I think people's lives are not quite as rich. - Tom Lakusta, chair of Hay River Museum Society
The museum is only letting 10 people, or two family bubbles, in at one time.
Lakusta said they're also working on other outdoor tours of local historical sites, like the town cemetery tour, and the fish trackway near Alexandra Falls.
Kruger, one of the museum's tour guides, said the pandemic is no different than other parts of Hay River's history and that, when things get tough, northerners always seem to pull through.
"Northerners have a long history of doing things the rough way, so we're not afraid when things turn for the worst," he said.
"We've survived the Pine Point mine closing, we survived the fishing industry falling out — when one industry closes, another door opens up."