The Premier of the Northwest Territories says hair salons may be among the first businesses granted permission to reopen as a plan to ease pandemic restrictions is finalized.
Premier Caroline Cochrane said on Tuesday she expected more detail by the end of this week about a plan to begin lifting some restrictions. While some types of business have remained open, many – particularly personal services like salons – were ordered to close in early April.
Cochrane said Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, would focus on “businesses that are vital to people” when restrictions begin to ease.
“Haircuts, things like that, might be some of the first ones that are opening, as long as they have the proper protective equipment,” said Cochrane.
The NWT is watching what happens as some southern jurisdictions allow a phased reopening of restaurants, Cochrane added.
“Those are some of the discussions,” she said. “It will be a phased-in approach. We need to make sure that we do this slowly and are responsible.”
There is currently no confirmed detail regarding how Dr Kandola intends to slowly reopen some aspects of life in the Northwest Territories.
However, border restrictions and mandatory self-isolation for those entering the NWT seem likely to be maintained for months at least.
“Until there’s a vaccine or effective treatment, strong measures must be in place,” said Cochrane.
She said Kandola was working on everything possible to provide “something resembling normal life soon.” Alongside the reintroduction of some businesses, that’s thought to include looking at ways of gradually lifting some restrictions on gatherings.
Faster testing is considered key to helping the NWT reopen. The territory earlier said delays to one new type of Covid-19 test would not significantly hinder efforts at easing restrictions, as another type of test can shoulder the additional workload for now.
Also on Tuesday, Cochrane answered criticism from some regular MLAs that her government’s presentation of an economic recovery plan last week lacked detail.
Cochrane said the presentation dealt more in a model than a plan, and staff would now accept input from MLAs and advisory councils of businesses and northern leaders before settling on a final, detailed recovery strategy.
She said “all sectors” would be included and, specifically, pledged the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines – and the territory’s chambers of commerce – would “have a huge amount of say in the economic measures that we bring forward.”