A state of emergency has been declared for the Northwest Territories.

The Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), Paulie Chinna, declared a territory-wide state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act to support ongoing efforts to protect public health in the Northwest Territories Friday morning.

The state of emergency will be in effect from “March 24 through April 7.”

“This decision does not indicate a significant change in circumstances or an increased risk to the people of the Northwest Territories,” a press release read. “The need to declare a state of emergency at this time is to make it more efficient to deploy resources to protect residents and enhance our response to the orders made by the Chief Public Health Officer.”

This step has been taken to ensure the Emergency Management Organization (EMO) is better able to support the implementation of the orders issued by the Chief Public Health Officer to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and gives the EMO the authority to control and direct all persons, including the GNWT and public agencies involved in emergency management plans or programs under the Emergency Management Act, according to the announcement.

“At this time, all residents are urged to follow these Orders and all other direction and advice from the Chief Public Health Officer.”

Premier Caroline Cochrane said “all levels of government are taking this pandemic very seriously.

“Declaring a state of emergency, as many other jurisdictions have, will help ensure that our officials have all the tools they need to do their jobs to protect and care for residents. We will continue to work closely with the federal government, provinces and territories to ensure coordinated approaches to the pandemic.”

The state of emergency was declared on the recommendation of the head of the Emergency Management Organization, Ivan Russell, according to the news release.

The state grants additional powers to Chinna and those designated by her “to do all acts and take all necessary proceedings, for the duration of the order, to deal with an emergency.”

Steps already taken by the GNWT to support the implementation of the public health order include establishing isolation centres and putting measures in place to receive travellers at airports in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River and Fort Smith, and at ground entry points to secure borders in Enterprise, Fort Smith, Liard and Dempster entry points, according to the GNWT.

Public safety notices related to COVID-19 are posted on this GNWT web page.

More to come.

Craig Gilbert

Craig is an award-winning journalist who has worked in Ontario, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta. He should be at least six feet away from you at all times.

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