Arctic Canadian city of Iqaluit declares local state of emergency after COVID-19 community transmission detected

A file photo of people wearing masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada November 18, 2020. (Natalie Maerzluft/Reuters)

Bylaw officers will be enforcing Nunavut government’s lockdown rules

The City of Iqaluit declared a local state of emergency Monday afternoon at an emergency city council meeting.

City councillor Kyle Sheppard motioned for the move during the meeting, which was livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page.

The move allows the city to unlock some limited authorities under Nunavut’s Emergency Measures Act.

Iqaluit’s mayor Kenny Bell said the state of emergency empowers the city’s bylaw officers to enforce the territorial lockdown rules, which officers will be doing.

Unlike Arviat, which put in a curfew when the hamlet declared a local state of emergency around its COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, Iqaluit has not made any of its own rules.

Iqaluit’s situation “serious”

Sheppard urged Iqalummiut to follow the territory’s public health measures. He called Iqaluit’s situation “serious,” citing Friday’s announcement from the government of Nunavut that there was now community transmission of COVID-19 in Iqaluit.

Eight new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Iqaluit on Monday, bringing the territory’s total active case count to 85, with two in Kinngait and two in Rankin Inlet.

There are 81 cases in Iqaluit. The city has been on lockdown since April 15, per the government of Nunavut’s public health orders.

The territory ordered all non-essential businesses closed and restaurants to move to take-out only. Anyone who can work from home is expected to do so. The government also made masks mandatory.

Nunavut’s chief public health officer says Iqalummiut are only to be socializing with the people they live with, though under the orders residents can have up to five people in their homes in emergency situations.

Iqaluit’s deputy mayor Janet Brewster seconded the motion and the vote approving the state of emergency was unanimous.

The state of emergency will officially come into effect at 12 a.m. on May 4.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Shared smoking breaks, broken rules: What led to Nunavut, Canada’s first COVID-19 cases?, The Canadian Press

Finland: Mysterious coronavirus variant in Arctic Finland is rare US-Mexican strain, Yle News

Denmark/Greenland: Greenland authorities buoyed by high demand for COVID-19 vaccine, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland:  Iceland’s ban on unnecessary travel from high-risk areas now in effect, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway extends border closure with Finland due to pandemic, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Norway closes borders over fears of virus, but exempts Russian fishermen from severely infected border region, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: COVID-19 strategy darkens Sweden’s image in the Nordics, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska politicians send Trudeau letter saying they’re “shocked” over Canada’s COVID-19 cruise ship ban, Eye on the Arctic

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