Leisure travel could be allowed end of August

The number of tourists coming to see the Aurora Borealis was far lower this year.(Supplied by : NWT Tourism.)
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Leisure travel could be allowed again in the NWT towards the end of August, according to NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer.

Dr. Kami Kandola said the changes would be tied to the vaccine rate elsewhere in the country — the benchmark has been set at 66 to 75 per cent fully vaccinated rate for Canada — and a 75 per cent fully vaccinated rate in the NWT.

“This will be two months from now and then at that time, we would have 75 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated. It’s very good protection, especially against importation risk,” she said.

Kandola said the GNWT wouldn’t be lifting leisure travel requirements for some communities if they reach the rate but the territory hasn’t reached the benchmark yet.

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When the GNWT loosened self-isolation requirements, different restrictions were put in place for people travelling to smaller communities.

A day 1 test and a day 14 test are required for people travelling from outside of the NWT to a small community and for some essential workers.

Some communities’ vaccine rates lag behind others — smaller communities tend to have a lower vaccine rate than bigger communities. Yellowknife and Fort McPherson are tied for the highest fully vaccinated rate, with Fort McPherson’s partial vaccination rate of 79 per cent slightly higher than Yellowkife’s.

But it looks like leisure travel will only be allowed when the whole territory reaches the 75 per cent fully vaccinated benchmark the GNWT set out.

On average, the territory has a partial vaccination rate of 72 per cent and a fully vaccinated rate of 66 per cent. That’s a slight uptick from last week, when 71 per cent of people 18 years and older are partially vaccinated, with 65 per cent of people fully vaccinated.

Lifting all restrictions will require a 75 per cent full vaccination rate in the territory and 66 to 75 per cent in the whole of Canada, with the number of daily cases staying below 1,000.

Lifting all restrictions would also require the total population, including those under 12, to have a partial vaccination rate of 66 to 75 per cent. None of the COVID-19 vaccines as of yet have been cleared for use in children aged 12 years and younger.

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