Cambridge Bay bans alcohol imports for two weeks, citing COVID-19 concerns

Move aims to improve safety in overcrowded homes

Cambridge Bay’s municipal leaders have introduced a two-week ban on importing alcohol to help encourage household safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Jane George)

By Jane George

Cambridge Bay’s municipal leaders have introduced a two-week ban on importing alcohol to the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ban came into effect on 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31.

Councillors passed the resolution on March 23, exercising their authority under Section 51.01 of the Liquor Act.

This section says a municipality can declare a special prohibition related to a special occasion, with a maximum length of 14 days per prohibition.

In this case, the “special occasion” is the territory’s state of emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly all the calls to the local RCMP detachment are linked to alcohol, Mayor Pamela Gross said in a letter about the ban, which was sent to residents on Tuesday evening.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

The usual practice is to arrest and jail intoxicated people who are causing trouble, Gross said.

But she said “these are temporary measures and do not resolve the underlying factors.”

As was the case in Greenland, where a ban on alcohol sales is now in place in three communities, the alcohol prohibition in Cambridge Bay is intended to improve safety in homes, which are often overcrowded.

“These occupants range from babies to children, youth, adults and seniors. With the current Nunavut Emergency Measures in place, with workplaces closing and the growing need for self-isolation and social distancing, the daily number of people in each residence at any given time has increased significantly,” she said, urging people to maintain social distancing and self-isolation to prevent the potential transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

There’s nowhere else to drink other than at home: earlier in March, the Ikaluktutiak Elks Lodge closed down.

Cambridge Bay was among the first communities in Nunavut to ask visitors to stay away and instead meet by teleconference or videoconference.

Every Child Matters, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Canadian High Arctic Research Station has said it is acting to reduce the COVID-19 risk by closing access to the public and taking preventive measures focused on protecting its employees and Cambridge Bay residents.

Cambridge Bay has also formed a COVID-19 Emergency Planning Group to discuss and exchange information about the global pandemic.

This group includes members of Nunavut’s Department of Health, hamlet councillors and administrators, the RCMP, school principals, and staff from the Emergency Management Organization, Polar Knowledge Canada and the Ovayok Broadcasting Society.

And a Facebook page has been created called “Cambridge Bay Volunteers during COVID-19″ to match up residents with others needing help.

To keep everyone occupied while they sit out the pandemic at home, the municipal government has also organized trivia contests, crossword puzzles and a social-distancing bingo event last Saturday, which will be repeated this weekend.

Cambridge Bay Mayor Pamela Gross offers a live update to residents of her community on March 30. (Screen shot)

As well, Gross offers live updates in English and Inuinnaqtun on the Cambridge Bay’s Facebook page.

So far, Nunavut has no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

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(10) Comments:

  1. Posted by Smart move on

    Great stuff. An example to all small communities , near and far. The population will be thankful for your decision.

  2. Posted by Yesssss on

    Yes yes yes. The safety of children and other family members who now have nowhere to go during the day or evening should come before the ones who are addicted. If people are having withdrawals, the can get medical attention now, before coronavirus is here and hospitals and medical centres are busy. Iqaluit, please follow suit. Some kids are having the worst month of their lives because the situation they are in had become much, much worse than usual because of being trapped at home with drunk adults who are violent, loud, dangerous or creepy.

    • Posted by Drunk adults and front line workers on

      A real opportunity to see the good and evil of this world. Here we have a crisis with the good taking care of everyone, even taking care of the abusers. Imagine having less interest in taking care of those who abuse their families. Will we need to prioritize, and care for those that are good people, and let the bad be what they be. I’m for good people and children.

  3. Posted by Keith Morrison on

    Now if only more people in Cambridge Bay smartened up. I see groups of people standing around chatting in the store entrances. People handing babies around and kissing them while other kids are playing in groups before everyone separates and goes on their merry way, completely oblivious that they’ve potentially spread a virus among multiple families and households, including elders most at risk.
    If SARS-Cov-2 gets loose in the community it will cut through it like a hot knife through butter because not enough people are taking this seriously. It seems like people are assuming someone else is going to keep them safe instead of doing what they can to help keep everyone safe.

    • Posted by People from south will save you on

      I think it’s like that in many communities. In Nunavik there’s a eerie ignorance in many people. The show goes on without much notice of physical isolation. People are staying at home mostly, but mixing together in all sorts of ways, seems to be unawareness to the seriousness. You have workers still picking up co workers in the morning venturing out into non protective environments closely together to get whatever job done, then going to separate families at lunch time, and on end of the day. If the virus is on the move, it will move freely with that group of two that are blowing smoke in each other’s face.

  4. Posted by The Ban Must Go On on

    It hasn’t gotten through to everyone yet, but you could see the precaution improving throughout the past few weeks. The Ban really helps as you could tell there was still a lot of parties going on when there shouldn’t be. Hope to see more communities follow through. Good job Cambridge Bay!

  5. Posted by Puvirnituq too on

    Big clap to puvirnituq, the beer and wine sales are stopped for now. The benefits to that community will be felt tremendously.

  6. Posted by Think positive on

    Good job hamlet of cambridge bay. Thinking positive and making the right decision for the community goes a long way. Hopefully, for the future the gov will consider not to place beer and wine sales in these communities. It will hurt the youth no matter what.

  7. Posted by Chief on

    Dont see anyone handling babies around and kids playing. Cambridge Bay residents doing well with the distance rule other than certain people partying like any other community. Mr. Fire chief please be positive through these hard times.

  8. Posted by Stan on

    Cutting off booze for 2 weeks isn’t going to accomplish much. Most people when they order do it in bulk anyways. Especially the bootleggers. By the time embargo is up just about ready to restock. Nom nom.

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