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Masks briefly considered for Pakallak Tyme but quickly shot down

Council prepares for potential partying in summer
Coun. Lynn Rudd takes in the presentation from Pelagie Papak, planning and lands administrator, about the town’s community plan. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

On the day of territorial Covid-19 restrictions lifting, Rankin Inlet council briefly considered implementing masking requirements ahead of Pakallak Tyme.

“For the most part, I believe that it should be optional,” said Coun. Justin Merritt at the April 11 council meeting. “I still think Covid’s out there. I still would like to keep the masks in place for recreation events like Pakallak Tyme.”

Coun. Daniel Kowmuk agreed, noting outdoors should still be optional for masks.

Coun. Michael Shouldice threw some cold water on the idea, though.

“I think it would be such a rotten time to square dance wearing a mask and trying to breathe and sweat,” he said. “I just can’t see anybody pleased or motivated to do that.”

That seemed to turn council’s feelings away from the original suggestion.

“We can let people have a choice if they want to or not – good?” suggested deputy mayor Martha Hickes.

“Easier for us,” responded Darren Flynn, senior administrative officer.

Coun. Kelly Lindell said she would still probably not want to attend a square dance with 400 or 500 people without masks, but agreed that it should be optional and enforcement would be difficult.

“It’s like having a peeing section in a swimming pool,” said Flynn in response.

Coun. Megan Pizzo-Lyall agreed with the hesitation about attending a large indoor event and said, “I think we should encourage people to keep masking, but not make it mandatory. I think we would be very criticized publicly to create rules that were just lifted today.”

The rest of council agreed that making mask use optional but encouraging it seemed the best fit.

Merritt and Kowmuk asked that the hamlet thank the residents of Rankin Inlet for their diligence in following public health orders throughout the pandemic.

Preparing for summer fun

Council is looking at its policies for controlling some of the impacts of potential increased alcohol usage as summer approaches.

“Now that we do have a (beer and wine) store, I know we will see people with beer and wine going up the road during summer,” said Merritt, suggesting that the hamlet meet with protective services and see what is possible about setting up checkstops at the entryway to town.

Shouldice clarified with Merritt that he meant checkstops for impaired driving, and not simply carrying alcohol, which is legal.

“As long as we’re clear about what level of authority,” said Shouldice, which Merritt agreed with, suggesting the hamlet discuss the issue with protective services and the RCMP.

Lindell also suggested the hamlet determine its policy on bonfires and making sure bottles and other waste aren’t left from them.