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Cartwright, Labrador declares state of emergency

['Cartwright']
Cartwright. - SaltWire File Photo

Town says it will help them react quicker to COVID-19 concerns

CARTWRIGHT, N.L. —

The town of Cartwright on the coast of Labrador has declared a state of emergency, the first municipality in the province to do so.

Dwight Lethbridge, mayor of Cartwright, told SaltWire it allows the municipality to react more quickly to COVID-19 concerns, put rules in place to protect the community and hopefully keep the pandemic out of the small town.

“I don’t want people to panic and think this has hit here,” he said. “It hasn’t. We're just being prepared."

He wants to reassure residents that no cases have been identified in the community.



They’re trying to be precautionary and prepared, he said, especially considering the recent concerns about passengers aboard the Kamutik W. Reportedly there was a couple travelling on the boat who had returned from outside the country, which has caused concerns among some residents of Labrador.

“What happened on the Kamutik W happened really quick and I don’t think anybody realized it could happen that fast,” he said. “What’s happened in Eastern Health all stemmed from a couple of cases and look how fast that spread. If that happens here, I don’t think there’s the capacity in our health care system, with our immune-compromised and elderly residents. It would hit us hard.”

With the Public State of Emergency in place, no one is allowed to travel in or out of the community with some exceptions, including essential work, medical travel, commercial traffic, and Cartwright residents who are out of the community and are returning home. Those people are required to self-isolate for 14 days, similar to the requirements the province has made for travellers returning from outside Newfoundland and Labrador.


“I don’t want people to panic and think this has hit here. It hasn’t. We're just being prepared." — Mayor Dwight Lethbridge


Residents of Paradise River and Black Tickle are also exempt since both communities are small and rely on Cartwright for some services.

As for the impact on the day to day lives of residents, Lethbridge said it essentially just means people have to stop unnecessary travel.

“Leisure travel to other communities has ended and leisure travel to Cartwright had ended and it will stay that way until we lift this state of emergency.”

It will be hard or downright impossible to fully enforce the rules for everyone, Lethbridge said, and he hopes people in the community will follow them. The state of emergency is under the Emergency Services Act, which says that anyone contravening the act guilty can be fined $1,000 or more and can be imprisoned for up to six months.

“If it gets to the point where we have to crack down on offenders, we’re going to do what we can under the Emergency Services Act and call the RCMP,” Lethbridge said. “If it comes to a point where we have to refer to the act and press charges we will.”


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