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NWT CPHO issues two new public health orders

On Friday April 10th, in a 2 pm press conference, NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola announced two new public health orders under the Public Health Act.

The first order bans all indoor gatherings in the Northwest Territories effective Saturday April 11th, 2020 to protect families, friends, and communities.

  • A gathering is when any amount of people get together in the same indoor space who don’t live in the same household.
  • Getting together outdoors is allowed for up to 10 people if social (physical) distance of at least two metres is maintained the entire time.
  • Dr. Kandola has also formalized the closure of certain types of businesses because they are unable or unlikely to maintain proper social (physical) distancing to keep residents safe.

The measures would extend to the following settings;

  • No visitors inside any home
  • If you’re caring for someone, you must limit your time inside their living space as much as you can
  • If you were planning a party you are to cancel it
  • If a loved one has passed away, you can no longer have a funeral. You can hold a burial with immediate family, but not a funeral
  • You will need to keep in touch with your friends by videochat, phone, social media, or group chat for a while
  • No outdoor get-togethers where people stand close together with people who you do not live with.
  • If you have 10 people or less there, you must all keep two metres apart at all times, otherwise it is illegal.
  • If you’re on-the-land, your tent is the same as being inside a house – no visitors and you must only go out on the land with your household.
  • When you’re out in public, you must keep two metres away from people at all times
  • You can still go for a walk with your friend – but you need to keep at least two metres apart the entire time.
  • The ban effectively extends to house parties, funerals, meetings, feasts, church services and team sports.

For organizations – municipal governments, NGOs, professional associations etc. If your event is coming up soon, in accordance with the new order you must cancel it.

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As for businesses the order essentially breaks businesses into red (absolutely not allowed to remain open); yellow (if you can maintain good social distance and don’t present a high-risk, you can remain open); and green (businesses that we believe must stay open to protect public health). Here are some examples in each category.

Red businesses absolutely not allowed to remain open such as tour operators, bottle depots, gyms and fitness centres, museums and art galleries, bars and night clubs, theatres and movie theatres, dine-in portions of restaurants, personal service establishments where physical distancing is not possible, including but not limited to barber shops, hair salons, tattoo and/or piercing services, spas, nail salons, massage therapists, aestheticians, naturopathic practitioners, acupuncturists, and chiropractic services.

Yellow businesses would be allowed to remain open as long as they maintain good social distance and don’t present a high-risk, such as takeout, drive-thru or delivery restaurants, corner stores and large retail stores (i.e. Canadian Tire).

Green businesses are those who must stay open to protect public health, such as grocery stores, gas bars and stations, banks, pharmacies and liquor stores.

The second order, effective as of 12pm on Friday April 10., is for Mines and Oil and Gas Remote Camps to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic by specifically introducing  additional measures to ensure the right precautions are in-place to protect NWT residents from the risks of having a southern transient workforce entering the territory.

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These measures will mitigate workers’ risk of contracting COVID-19, and ensure anyone with signs of symptoms is screened out before traveling to the worksite.

The measures apply to all companies and employers operating in the sectors – parent corporations and contractors alike. Several measures also apply to employees.

This order excludes the Giant Mine Remediation project in Yellowknife. If this site is not staffed appropriately, the territory risks significant environmental damage.

  • Every worker must practice 14 days of social distancing before returning to the worksite and report any symptoms.
  • This includes all southern transient workers and local employees.
  • They will be screened and temperature checked before they return to site.
  • Employees must also self-monitor closely and immediately report any sign of symptoms.
  • Every worker must comply with all procedures and processes set up by their company to comply with the order.
  • Companies must establish and ensure compliance with social distancing protocols for all employees at the worksite when they are not working or eating meals.
    • Companies will be held responsible if they do not have the right processes and enforcement policies in-place.
  • Companies are ordered to use the absolute minimum amount of workers to continue operations and will be monitored by WSCC.
    • Public health will act on any violations they discover.
  • Mandatory health screening must be done before travelling to site and before work starts every day
    • This could include temperature checks, observation for symptoms, and assessments of every worker.
    • If symptoms are shown, workers are ordered into isolation immediately and the mine site’s medical director will immediately contact the Chief Public Health Officer for more instructions.
  • Companies must complete workplace risk assessment before they travel to the worksite.
    • Each must be kept on-file and provided as-required to WSCC.
    • High-risk workers are not to be permitted to travel to site.
  • Companies must end the practice of buffet-style catering.
    • Establish high-quality disinfection and social distancing for common areas, and put up signs in front of all areas which are closed
    • Common areas include gyms, recreational areas, communal areas, movie theatres, and personal services.
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