Baker Lake has joined Arviat and Rankin Inlet in implementing a municipal vaccine passport.
“Council felt it might be important to put in place that only vaccinated people can enter into public municipal places such as our arena and community centre,” said Sheldon Dorey, senior administrative officer with the hamlet.
Once passed, the bylaw went into immediate effect on Jan. 20, and it was posted to the hamlet’s social media on Jan. 27.
It stipulates that everyone five and older must show proof of vaccination – meaning two doses from a Covid-19 vaccine – to enter publicly accessible municipal buildings, including all events inside them, from bingo to sports, feasts, games and public meetings.
Unvaccinated people will be permitted to enter the municipal office for the purpose of making a payment, applying for a permit or receiving another program or service. Penalties include a minimum of $250 for the first offence, up to $750 for the second and up to $2,250 for each subsequent offence.
The bylaw will be in force until it is repealed or the Government of Nunavut ends the Covid-19 state of emergency.
Dorey noted that although the GN has relaxed some restrictions, the hamlet is still managing an outbreak and hasn’t opened its recreational facility yet. He said staff are working on how to open back up safely, adhere to capacity limits and police the vaccination requirements.
Asked why the hamlet decided to implement this bylaw, Dorey replied, “Every day we hear on the news and we see in print that our Government of Nunavut is promoting vaccinations. So this is the council of Baker Lake’s idea to try and enhance what the Government of Nunavut is saying.”
He said it’s an attempt to increase vaccine uptake and stop the spread of Covid-19.
“If everyone took the needle to start with, according to what they’re saying, the spread wouldn’t happen,” said Dorey, noting he’s not a doctor.
He added that the council is trying to be proactive and do what the members feel is correct, and it’s in line with other proof-of-vaccination requirements in the country, such as those to board a plane.
“It’s better to try something than to sit on your hands and do nothing,” said Dorey.
Requests for medical or human rights exemptions to the requirement must be made in writing to the senior administrative officer.
Mayor Richard Aksawnee did not respond to interview requests from Kivalliq News.