The May 5 election for the president of Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region of the Atlantic Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, has been postponed until October 6 amidst fears over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the inability to access appropriate polling areas, uncertainties respecting timely mail delivery for mail-in ballots, and also the imposition of requirements on public gatherings and physical distancing have resulted in the reality that it is not possible to hold the election in the immediate future,” said Nunatsiavut First Minister Tyler Edmunds in a news release on Monday.
“Therefore, there is no choice but to postpone the election to a time when it is hoped the public health situation has improved.”
Nunatsiavut’s population of 2560 is spread out between five communities along the Atlantic coast: Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet.
As of Tuesday evening there were no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in any of the villages but there are huge worries that if it did penetrate the region it would quickly overwhelm the communities’ limited health resources.
On March 19, the Nunatsiavut government asked people to refrain from travelling to the region.
On Friday, the government asked anyone coming home, including students and staff, to self-isolate for 14 days in the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the transport hub into Nunatsiavut, before travelling on to the communities in the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area.
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
Related stories from around the North:
Arctic: Roundup of COVID-19 responses around the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic
Canada: Inuit gov. in Atlantic Canada calls for people to stop travel to and from their region, Eye on the Arctic
Finland: Finns continue with ski holiday plans despite travel advisory, Yle News
Greenland: COVID-19: Arctic science expedition postpones flight campaign after trainee tests positive for virus, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Norway to focus on civil society, press freedom as chair of Barents Euro-Arctic Council, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Arctic oil plans in Norway and Russia disrupted amid COVID-19 crisis, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Why are Sweden’s politicians taking a different tack for coronavirus?, Radio Sweden