Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, several city-run programs have had to shift their normal operations in Iqaluit, said Amy Elgersma, City of Iqaluit’s chief administrative officer (CAO).
The city’s recreation department has been offering different fitness and wellness related programming through social media.
On March 17, after the declaration of the public health emergency in Nunavut, all Iqaluit recreation facilities and programs, including the Aquatic Centre, were closed.
The recreation department is also conducting wellness checks for Elders involved with the Elders Qammaq program; food and craft supplies are being delivered to them, said the CAO.
The Qajuqturvik Food Centre is offering takeout meals instead of meals indoors. A breakfast program initiated by some school staff distributes food bags outside of DJ’s Specialties and Joamie School, said Elgersma.
There is no shortage of food and supplies in Iqaluit at this time, according to the CAO. Stores are regularly stocked, except some specialty items and brands may have changed. To keep Elders safe, stores have scheduled shopping hours specifically for them.
“We are proud of how well our community has reacted to the situation,” said Elgersma, adding the atmosphere in Iqaluit has remained “fairly calm” amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The City of Iqaluit has formed a Coordinated Community Services Response Committee. This serves to address gaps in services and to connect service organizations with resources, she explained.
To help address needs related to homelessness, the group has helped to identify priorities for funding allocations under the Reaching Home program. The Uquutaq Mens’ shelter has opened a “special shelter” for Elders and the vulnerable for potential social distancing and isolation needs.
Recently, the City of Iqaluit has also formed an inter-agency youth task force, which aims to address the needs of Iqaluit youth during the Covid-19 situation, said the CAO.
Elgersma assured that Iqaluit residents and businesses have both been practicing and educating the public about social distancing protocols. Despite having had some difficulties with enforcing social distancing at first, all stores accessible to the public now have visual measures in place to encourage social distancing practices.
The city has also identified quarantine spaces that could be used in various scenarios as part of its emergency management planning for Covid-19.
As of March 17, all bars, restaurant dining rooms, schools and daycares have been closed in Iqaluit.
“I would like to reiterate that we are extremely proud of our community, and the territory, for how they have reacted to this pandemic. It has been a whirlwind of a few weeks but our community has banded together to support each other during this time,” said Elgersma.