Three First Nations communities went into a lockdown after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the James Bay area.
The 76th case of the virus in the Porcupine Health Unit region was confirmed in Moose Factory Island over the weekend. It is an individual in their 20s to 40s who is in self-isolation at home.
To help stop the spread of the virus, communities on the James Bay coast have instituted new restrictions.
Moose Cree First Nation updated a bylaw that now prohibits people living in Moose Factory to leave their residences except for work, exercise, grocery shopping or getting medical services. Wearing masks is mandatory in Moose Factory Island in all public spaces and social gatherings have been banned for the next two weeks.
People who travelled on land for moose hunting, harvesting or other traditional activities by boat or helicopter are not required to quarantine upon returning to the community.
Effective Monday, Moose Factory Ministik School is also closed to all visitors except for employees and new student registrations. The drop off and pick up of learning materials have also been temporarily cancelled.
Fort Albany First Nation is on a two-week lockdown. Essential services like grocery stores and gas stations are still available.
Community members who are currently not in Fort Albany are being brought back via a special charter. Travelers will have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival and they must be tested for COVID-19. People who have recently arrived from Moose Factory or Moosonee are also required to get tested for COVID-19.
“All authorized community travellers will be assured to be supported and not left behind during this time of lockdown,” reads a report from the council’s and Easing Community Restrictions group’s meeting held on Sept. 12.
According to the notice, there will be no regular flights until further notice. The hospital charter will continue to operate but it will be up to a person to decide whether to attend or reschedule their medical appointment.
The Peetabeck Academy School in Fort Albany will be closed for two weeks until further notice but teachers will continue to provide homework packages for their students.
Kashechewan First Nation is also on a "partial and precautionary lockdown" ending on Sept. 28, said Kashechewan Health Services’ director Gaius Wesley in an email.
“The date may be extended and will be determined by the leadership,” he said.