NWT orders all gatherings of 50 or more people cancelled

Last modified: March 17, 2020 at 3:30pm

All gatherings of 50 or more people must be cancelled in the Northwest Territories, the chief public health officer stated on Tuesday afternoon.

The measure is being taken to limit the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. There are currently no confirmed cases in the territory.

Large retailers and grocery stories are exempt, but people are encouraged to remain two metres apart.


In gatherings with fewer than 50 people, the territorial government listed four measures that “must be available to be considered safe.” They are:

  1. The ability to keep two metres between people.
  2. Adequate supply of hygiene material (paper towels, soap, hand sanitizer, running water, waste disposal).
  3. Anyone not feeling well must be told to remain at home.
  4. Increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces used often.

The public health advisory, issued on Tuesday afternoon, said individuals, organizations, and businesses “should cancel all mass gatherings that could reach more than 50 people.”

In full: Public health advisory on mass gatherings

The advisory stated: “Large gatherings are a significant source of spread. Physical distancing of more than two metres apart becomes challenging [at such events], healthy respiratory practices may not always be followed, and more bodies mean more chance of spread.

“Taking action to limit large gatherings will help protect all Northwest Territories residents, especially the elderly and other vulnerable populations.”


Snowking’s Winter Festival shut down completely earlier on Tuesday. Inuvik’s Muskrat Jamboree, set to take place at the end of March, was also called off.

In Yellowknife, the Woodyard and Copperhouse eateries have closed their restaurants, though takeout remains available via the Copperhouse drive-through window.

Tuesday’s advisory contained no information specific to restaurants and bars, but did state: “It is recommended businesses take measures to limit how many people are in an establishment at any given time.

“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 percent alcohol content.”


“If you feel sick, you should not go to any gathering of any size,” the chief public health officer warned. “Stay home.”

Elsewhere in Canada, Ontario and Alberta each declared states of emergency on Tuesday.

Ontario recorded its first fatality on Tuesday while British Columbia has now reported four deaths, bringing the Canadian total to five.

Earlier in the day, WestJet announced it would suspend all commercial international and transborder flights for the next 30 days, focusing instead on flights to bring stranded Canadians home to the country.