Folk on the Rocks 2021 will take place in the midst of the Government of the Northwest Territories planning to phase out public health restrictions through its Emerging Wisely plan.

Carly McFadden, executive director for the festival said she has been working closely with the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories for months to see that the festival is successful.

This year there will be a cap on the festival grounds for the number of people who can attend. Typically that number is 5,000 every year, but this year the CPHO has granted 3,500, she said.

“Right now attendance is looking really solid with 73 per cent of tickets sold, which is unusual, however capacity is a bit lower which makes it a bit different,” she said in an interview on July 14.

“We are definitely asking folks to get tickets right away as we are not sure what date sales will be like and if they’ll be able to buy at the door.”

Other public health restrictions amendments have included, as of July 14, that there will be no mandatory mask rule among performers, audience members and staff, McFadden said.

“So everyone on site will be encouraged to wear a mask but it is not mandatory,” she said.

Dawn Ostrem, communications manager with the COVID Secretariat said that Folk on the Rocks was approved for a request to vary submission to increase the number of people allowed on site. Events which expect outdoor gatherings of more than 200 people are required to submit an application and plans plans to ensure that public health protocols are followed, she said.

“The plans must contain measures that will address the risks at the event,” she said. “For outdoor gatherings with more than 200 people in attendance, possible COVID risks include crowding and close contact, and the possibility of many different people attending from different households.”

Ostrem said that the OCPHO has worked with the festival to ensure additional measures proposed are appropriate and put in place. These measures can include physical distancing barriers, frequent handwashing and sanitization stations, increased surface cleaning or personal protective equipment like masking.

The Department of Health and Social Services will not be enforcing safe practices on site as organizers will be responsible for ensuring people follow guidelines.

However there will be vaccination pop-up clinics available on site on Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. with health professionals.

These will be “for people 18 years of age and who haven’t received the Moderna vaccine yet, or only received the first dose and are scheduled for a second,” Ostrem said. “The booth will be set up across from the Main Stage.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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  1. I can’t go to Alberta with my children without them needing isolation and a test but we can approve 3500 people to mingle??? Unbelievable