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COVID-19 prompts Northwestern Ont. First Nation to close community to non-residents

Netimizaagamig Nishnaabeg, formerly Pic Mobert, latest community to take step
cdc covid virus
Netinizaagamig Nishnaabeg, formerly Pic Mobert First Nation, has closed its community to non-residents (Via Unsplash)

NETINIZAAGAMIG NISHNAABEG, Ont. – Netimizaagamig Nishnaabeg, formerly known as Pic Mobert, is the latest First Nation to restrict travel in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into the community, located around 70 kilometres east of Marathon.

The chief and council passed a resolution closing the community to non-residents Friday, effective immediately. In a release, they say that will be achieved through a 24-hour manned roadblock, where non-residents will be turned away and anyone wishing to enter the community will be screened. Screening will include requiring evidence of residency, a questionnaire, and an infrared scan to identify potential fever.

Deliveries considered to provide essential services to the community, such as heating oil, food and medical supplies, and septic pumping services, may be exempt from the ban on the condition drivers have minimal contact with residents and are escorted in and out of the community.

“This was a necessary and timely decision to make in light of the global pandemic and the state of emergency in place in Ontario,” said Chief Johanna Desmoulin. “[It] means that our Council is doing all it can in order to protect our citizens and prevent the spread of this dangerous virus.”

Exceptions will also be made for patients of the Ontario Addiction Treatment Centres located in the community, with similar conditions.

The band council is advising all members to practice social distancing, including avoiding non-essential visits and maintaining a distance of at least two metres from others whenever possible.

Around 15 First Nations in Northwestern Ontario have implemented travel restrictions designed to prevent the spread of the virus.