The Monkey Tree Pub and three other NWT premises have been granted an exception to COVID-19 restrictions to allow for live singing and dancing.

A July 16 letter to the Monkey Tree Pub obtained by Northern News Services contains several conditions, however. Among them includes breaks between indoor singing performances.

“Indoor singing is limited to a maximum of 30 minutes (sets)… followed by 30 minutes for air exchange and ventilation between sets,” reads the letter.

Other recommendations include that people singing have to face the same direction — not towards one another — and have to be be at least three metres from audience members. If a physical barrier can be erected, that distance can be reduced, according to the letter.

As for people wanting to dance on the dance floor at the Monkey Tree, face coverings are required.

“Masks must be worn by all attendees, when not eating or drinking, when indoor singing is occurring or when (the) dance floor is in use,” the letter states.

Contact information has to be provided from visitors who are attending a live music event or dancing, and that information has to be kept by the establishment for 30 days for the purposes of contact tracing.

The pub is also responsible for providing notice with signage or verbally that people can’t enter if they have COVID-19.

Staff have to wear masks and keep a distance between themselves and customers; increased ventilation of airspace has to be maintained with opened windows and doors to “maximize fresh air dilution on HVAC systems” and hand sanitizer stations, two-metre physical distancing between groups, and enhanced cleaning of common surfaces has to be practised.

Dawn Ostrem, communications manager with the GNWT’s COVID Secretariat, said in a July 19 email that the Monkey Tree Pub and three other premise have received approvals for live singing and dancing. She wouldn’t specify who the others are.

High-risk activities like live singing and dancing are listed in Emerging Wisely 2021 Step by Step Together — the NWT’s plan to phase out public health restrictions and reopen the economy.

The maximum number of people allowed in an indoor space currently is 200 people, according to the document, and venues providing live music performances and dancing must have an exposure control plan and submit a “request to vary” application to the CPHO to ensure that risk factors are being addressed.

“To host a gathering of over 200 people or high-risk activities, OCPHO approval is required and businesses/individuals must apply for an activity exemption approval,” Ostrem said. “High-risk activities include live singing, wind instrument performances, indoor dancing, funerals, handgames (and) indoor winter sports.

“Groups with existing approved plans will not need to reapply unless they would like to change how they are gathering.”

All public health restrictions are expected to be lifted “potentially by mid-fall 2021,” Ostrem added.

NNSL requested comment from the Monkey Tree Pub and the Raven Pub but didn’t receive a response prior to press deadline. The Raven Pub promoted the return of dancing in a July 16 Facebook post.

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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