Outdoor gathering restrictions set to be loosened before indoor

NWT's CPHO Dr. Kami Kandola. (Photo by Bailey Moreton/MyTrueNorthNow.com.)
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Restrictions on outdoor gatherings are set to be loosened before indoor gatherings, a change from the original plan laid out by the territorial government.

Originally, restrictions on both indoor and outdoor gatherings were set to be loosened as part of stage three of the territory’s Emerging Wisely plan. 

The detection of COVID-19 variant cases in the territory meant loosening restrictions on indoor gatherings will happen later, likely when the third wave is slowing down in the rest of Canada.

“That latter one will be timed at where the vaccine rollout is for the rest of Canada and where the third wave is for the rest of Canada,” said Kandola, referring to the easing of restrictions on indoor gatherings.

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Loosening outdoor gathering restrictions is likely going to happen around the end of April.

Indoor gatherings are also supposed to have restrictions loosen, but changes to those restrictions will have to happen later than those for outdoor gatherings. 

Currently outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people. Indoor gatherings are limited to 25 people in an event space, as long as physical distancing is possible. Events inside a home are allowed an additional five additional people to the number of people living in the house, for a maximum of ten people.

Exceptions have been made for some upcoming events, like Folk-on-the-Rocks. But all events looking for events have to submit mitigation plans. 

The rise of COVID-19 variants is a  major area of concern for the territory’s pandemic response moving forward, says Kandola.

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“Most of Canada is now entering the third wave and it’s been mainly fueled by variants of concern,” she said. “It will become the dominant strain, unfortunately, in the weeks to come.”

Additionally, the relatively low vaccine uptake rate of younger people may delay the loosening of restrictions. Kandola said 18 to 29 year-olds are the least likely to have received their first dose of the vaccine, followed by 30 to 49 year-olds.

Some information about preliminary orders relating to moving into stage three of the emerging wisely plan should be being released next week.

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