CPHO cautions against travel plans for the holidays

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GNWT’s Chief Public Health Officer reiterated to journalists on Wednesdays that non-essential travel out of the territory should be avoided, as the holidays approach.

Dr. Kami Kandola added there had been no decisions about whether shortened wait times for results from COVID-19 tests would mean the GNWT would cut down the 14-days required as part of mandatory self-isolation.

“There are a lot of moving pieces on that and we’re watching what’s happening in the rest of Canada,” said Kandola. “We’ll see how the second wave levels off.”

As COVID-19 cases increase in the south in most provinces, Kandola said it would be hard to predict when a change in the mandatory isolation period would be safe for NT.

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“If the number of cases starts to dramatically increase, our risk of importation starts to increase,” she said. “If we get to a point where our risk is sufficiently reduced, definitely we would entertain that.”

Yukon

When the Northwest Territories and Nunavut entered into a travel bubble back in June, Yukon was excluded. The Yukon currently has a travel bubble with people from B.C., who in turn have no travel restrictions for people entering from Alberta.

B.C. has 1,387 active cases, with 115 new cases on Thursday, while Alberta has 1,910 active cases with 143 new cases on Thursday. Kandola said while B.C. may be able to change the second curve in cases that is emerging, Kandola ruled out looking at extending the northern travel bubble to include Yukon.

“If we were to engage in a bubble with Yukon, it would have to be Yukon-NWT-Nunavut,” said Kandola. “We can’t feel comfortable as long as Yukon has a bubble with B.C.”

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Kandola added that the rising number of cases in Alaska also makes including Yukon in a travel bubble more difficult. 

But Kandola said it is a topic GNWT would revisit in the future.

Atlantic Travel bubble

Kandola also said she was open to the idea of a travel bubble with the Atlantic provinces.

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New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward’s Island and Nova Scotia have 32 active cases between them and have had a travel bubble — where people could move freely between the provinces — since the beginning of July.

Any decision would involve multiple levels of government and wouldn’t come down to the chief public health officer, but Kandola said she has reached out to the public health officers in those provinces.

Currently there are no airlines that fly directly from the Atlantic provinces to Nunavut or the Northwest Territories, meaning travellers would have to pass through a province where COVID-19 case numbers are higher.

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