NWT about to reach a year under a public health emergency

The NWT government has extended its public health emergency related to Covid-19, meaning the territory will on Thursday reach one full year spent under that declaration.

A public health emergency, which gives the chief public health officer extra powers to combat the pandemic, was first declared in the NWT on March 18, 2020. It has been extended every two weeks since.

Health minister Julie Green announced the latest extension, which keeps the emergency declaration in place until at least March 30, in a short news release on Tuesday.


“The public health emergency is required to continue to decisively respond to shifts in the NWT’s own public health situation and maintain preventative measures,” that news release stated, using language that has remained virtually identical for months.

The emergency must be either renewed or terminated every two weeks by law.

As of Monday, the territorial government said one active case of Covid-19 remains in the NWT. That case involves an NWT resident. There have been 74 confirmed cases of the disease in the territory to date.

Though a larger share of the NWT’s adult population has been vaccinated than almost any other jurisdiction in the world, the territory’s health authorities have maintained that many restrictions – particularly those related to travel and isolation – cannot be lifted until the situation improves elsewhere in Canada and beyond.

The NWT government is widely expected to announce a move to phase three of its pandemic reopening plan next month. Doing so would primarily remove the cap on outdoor gathering sizes as long as appropriate health measures are in place.