Masks became mandatory in NWT liquor stores on Friday as three presumptive positive Covid-19 cases in the territory were announced.
Liquor stores across the teritory shared the news online and through in-store signs on Friday, warning customers they would need to wear a mask when shopping from now on.
At the downtown Yellowknife store shortly after noon, customers were being turned away at the door if they had no mask.
The territorial government said store operators had made the decision to require masks themselves.
“NWT liquor store operators have contacted the Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission to state that they will be making masks mandatory in all NWT stores. Stores will be advising customers of this measure today,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Finance, which oversees the operation of liquor stores, on Friday.
All seven of the territory’s stores made masks mandatory on the same day, the department said.
“The decision to make masks mandatory is at the discretion of the store agents,” said the spokesperson, adding the liquor and cannabis commission “supports the decision to keep our customers and community residents safe.”
The decision to require masks followed news earlier on Friday that three more potential Covid-19 cases had been identified in the territory.
Two people in Yellowknife and one in Inuvik have received initial positive tests for the virus. Second tests are being carried out in Edmonton to confirm the results, the territorial government said.
They are the first NWT residents to receive positive tests for Covid-19 since April. If confirmed, the territory’s total for the pandemic would rise to eight.
While the territorial government has long maintained that its pandemic recovery plan can withstand the occasional flurry of Covid-19 cases, the impact of three presumptive positives on the wider population remained to be seen.
At least two events in the Northwest Territories were cancelled on Friday as an apparent direct consequence of the positive tests being announced.
Masks were already mandatory at Yellowknife’s Walmart and Independent stores, and mask rules at the NWT’s airports were upgraded earlier in the week.