Public health officer Chloe LeTourneau speaks with a driver about Covid-19 and health regulations at the checkstop on April 18. NNSL photo

The NWT’s Compliance and Enforcement Taskforce on April 18 set up a check stop staffed by police and public health officers to offer Covid-related information to drivers. Located at the corner of Highway 4 and Niven Gate, about 10 officers, including four public health officers, stopped motorists and offered them information about the coronavirus and the social distancing orders in effect in the territory.

Day shelter begins managed alcohol program

At-risk people who have signed up for a 30-day quarantine at Yellowknife’s Day Shelter and Sobering Centre amid the Covid-19 crisis – many of whom are homeless and struggle with addictions – are being supplied alcohol as part of a current program introduced at the NWT Disabilities Council-run centre.

Community advocates in Yellowknife have long called on the GNWT to implement a managed alcohol program for the city’s most vulnerable.

Now it’s happening, at least temporarily, at the joint day shelter and sobering centre, according to the NWT Disabilities Council.

“With controlled distribution of alcohol and no access to illegal drugs, the people we support are telling us how they feel healthier than they have years,” stated Alannis McKee, director of programs at the NWT Disabilities Council.

Impact of panic buying lands on truck drivers

Pandemic-related shortages at supermarkets are stressful, but not all shoppers know about the stress that truckers face in bringing those products to the shops.

Panic-buying at stores across the NWT depleted stocks to such a degree that some food items like bread, milk and flour were rationed. Others, like toilet paper and sanitary products, were gone completely, in some cases.

The knock-on effect of those shortages is felt by truck drivers, who are hauling heavier loads, working longer hours and under less predictable schedules than before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“We’ve been really pushed to the max and our loads are a lot heavier than normal. They’re stacking the trailers as heavy as they can,” said Kevin Morken, a long-haul trucker with Federated Cooperative Limited.

Morken used to work about 55 hours a week going between Yellowknife and Edmonton.  During the most intense period in mid-March he was working up to 70 hours a week.

Daily limit on booze

Effective April 16, a daily $200 purchase limit on booze was implemented across the NWT. The measure was announced as the territorial government faces increasing pressure from the Dene Nation and other Indigenous leaders to restrict the flow of alcohol in the territory.

Dene Nation national chief Norman Yakeleya had been urging the government to restrict sales, arguing that alcohol consumption in Dene communities has become a major concern, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Indigenous leaders across the NWT have stated that access to alcohol has led to increased public gatherings in their communities, furthering the risk of spreading the virus.

Mystery surrounds visitor’s April visit to Yellowknife

A Romanian man currently living in Vancouver says he flew into Yellowknife and spent two days in the city in April despite a territorial government ban on all non-residents and nonessential workers from entering the NWT to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The man, who asked not to be named because he fears he will be harassed, said he took a WestJet flight from Vancouver to Calgary to Yellowknife on April 8.

The visitor said he came to Yellowknife after being invited by a friend named “Derek” but he wasn’t able to connect with him. The man tried to book a room at Mo’s Houseboat Bed and Breakfast, owned by Monique Robert. Robert said she was shocked to hear from a traveller asking for overnight accommodations while the territory was under lockdown.

The visitor said he was able to purchase a plane ticket out of Yellowknife last minute and left on April 10.

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