Travellers from the Yukon will no longer have to self-isolate, as long as they are granted an exemption by the CPHO.
The change gives Yukon residents the same requirements for travelling to the NWT as those from Nunavut.
There are a number of requirements travellers have to meet, including receiving an approved exemption letter from the Chief Public Health Officer before travelling.
Travellers also must not have travelled from another area of the country for at least 14 days before entering the NWT. They must also not be displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
Travellers won’t be granted an exemption if they are coming from a community with travel restrictions in place, or one that’s experiencing community transmission of COVID-19, or if they’re a worker at a Yukon camp or work site that has out-of-territory workers.
Health Minister Julie Green says the combination of a low number of cases and progress with the vaccine roll-out mean they can go ahead with the change.
“There are strong ties between both of our territories and this change will allow families and friends on both sides of our borders to see each other again while continuing to keep our territories and communities healthy and safe,” she said in a statement.
Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semller has called repeatedly on the GNWT to make changes to allow travel across the Yukon border for communities who live in the Beaufort Delta.
The Dempster Highway, the only road connection to northern communities like Inuvik, travels through Yukon, meaning residents in northern communities have been cut off from access to other parts of the territory, unless they flew.
“The Dempster Highway is the only way in and out of the Beaufort Delta by road,” she said.
“It’s our lifeline to the rest of Canada. Yes, we are NWT residents, but there is no way for us to get to the rest of the NWT unless we drive through Yukon, BC, and Alberta at this time. Or if we can afford to pay the high cost of an airline ticket, and many cannot.”
Changes to COVID-19 restrictions could be coming more broadly, as the GNWT prepares its release of its updated Emerging Wisely Plan, which would see the removal of the phased approach the plan currently uses.
The plan has seen the NWT remain in stage 2 of COVID-19 restrictions since June 2020.
The change will come into effect when ferry operations on the Dempster Highway start for the year.