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Whole families isolating and restrictions tighten for Nunavut travellers: New COVID guidelines

Whole families will now have to isolate and restrictions are tightening for travellers from Nunavut as the GNWT releases a new update to their COVID-19 guidelines.

NT’s Chief Public Health Officer has issued new COVID-19 guidelines that say whole families must isolate if someone from their household returns from outside the Northwest Territories, unless the traveller has a completely separate suite in the house.

Essential workers who have someone who has travelled outside the territory in their home must now also submit essential worker plans and have their employer apply for Permission to Work during the 14-day self-isolation period. Approval from the CPHO is required.

Additionally, anyone in the NWT who was in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut at any time in the past 14 days must isolate immediately.

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They must remain isolated until 14 days have passed since their arrival in the NWT.

That’s in addition to the suspension of the Northern travel bubble, which NT’s CPHO Dr. Kami Kandola announced on Monday and came into effect on Tuesday at 12 p.m. Now, every traveller from Nunavut has to submit a self-isolation plan and isolate for 14-days.

There are likely no changes coming in the future for the 14-day isolation period, even for people who are tested for COVID-19, Kandola said in a press conference on Wednesday. 

Cases are spiking throughout the country, including in Nunavut, with 70 cases now confirmed in the territory, moving it above Prince Edward Island in terms of total COVID-19 cases.

The GNWT said 380 travellers from Nunavut are currently in the Northwest Territories who arrived prior to the Northern travel bubble being suspended, and the GNWT is reaching out to them directly to ensure they are following COVID-19 guidelines are being followed.

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A small number of those are contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Kandola could not confirm how many travellers were impacted, but said it was a small number and all of the contacts are isolating and doing well.

“It’s a precaution,” said Kandola. “We get reports all the time from people traveling down south who are having context of court cases. It’s the same scenario.”

The new guidelines issued by the territorial government also caution against unnecessary travel, especially in the weeks leading up to and during the holiday season. 

“We have a few critical months ahead of us as we receive more travelers into the territory for the holidays,” said Kandola in a press conference on Wednesday. “We are moving into our winter respiratory virus season. COVID activity is at an all time high in most of Canada, and it will only accelerate further in the coming weeks.”

“My hope is that all Northerners take this as a moment to reflect and redouble our efforts to keep each other safe,” she added.

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