The Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation on Saturday introduced fresh pandemic safety measures and travel restrictions, a direct response to the announcement of potential new cases of Covid-19 in Yellowknife.
Two presumptive positives for Covid-19 in Yellowknife were announced by the territorial government on Friday, alongside another in Inuvik. All three are undergoing lab tests to confirm the initial results.
In response, the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation said on Facebook it would put a range of new measures in place.
The First Nation said residents of Łutselkʼe returning from Yellowknife “should wear masks and practise social distancing for 14 days, even in your own household.”
Travel into and out of Łutselkʼe “is restricted to essential travel only,” the First Nation’s statement continued.
“Non-community members are not to travel into Łutsël K’é at this time, unless they are providing essential services. All essential workers are to register with the band office and request permission before entering the community.”
It was not immediately clear if a checkpoint system or other methods of enforcing the measures would be put in place.
The First Nation told residents they must now wear masks in all public buildings, including the community’s Co-op store, community hall, and band office. That measure goes further than the NWT government’s current guidelines, which do not mandate masks in all public spaces (but which do allow individual organizations and businesses to set their own, more stringent rules).
A “Covid-19 response worker” will be hired, the First Nation said, “to monitor travellers at the airport and assist with delivery of groceries and other errands to allow members to stay at home.”
Saturday’s statement concluded by suggesting the First Nation would reassess its measures “once more information about the spread of Covid-19 in Yellowknife is made available.”
Lineup at drive-through clinic
Meanwhile, in Yellowknife itself, there were lineups at the city’s drive-through Covid-19 testing centre on Saturday.
The territorial government on Friday announced extended weekend hours at the drive-through centre, expecting an uptick in demand after announcing three potential new cases of Covid-19 in the territory.
On Friday afternoon, public health officials had warned of a possible risk of Covid-19 exposure at both a local gym and the Yellowknife RCMP detachment’s public waiting area.
The risk was confined to short windows of time on October 12 and 13. Anyone affected was ordered to isolate immediately.
The third presumptive positive, in Inuvik, was said by health officials to be a patient who took appropriate isolation precautions with minimal further risk to the community.