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Coronavirus

NWT politician broke isolation to enter legislature, staff told

Last modified: April 23, 2021 at 1:17pm


Steve Norn, the MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, broke isolation to enter the NWT’s legislature, three people with direct knowledge of the incident told Cabin Radio.

Norn has already come forward to identify himself and a family member as the two people diagnosed with Covid-19 in Yellowknife this week. He said he had isolated appropriately for 14 days after returning from a family emergency in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

“I followed all the rules. I was up front with everybody,” Norn told Cabin Radio at the time.

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However, staff at the legislature were on Friday told Norn had entered the building on Saturday, April 17, a full day before his isolation period – which Norn himself identified as April 4-18 – was due to expire.

One member of legislature staff, understood to be a security guard, is isolating as a result.

There is likely to have been minimal exposure beyond that, given Norn chose to enter the building on a Saturday. However, doing so is a clear breach of the NWT’s rules for people isolating on their return from travel.

The Legislative Assembly refused to comment when approached by Cabin Radio on Friday.

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“The Legislative Assembly has an exposure control plan, and works closely with the Department of Health and Social Services to ensure appropriate communication measures are met. The Assembly will not comment further,” a spokesperson said by email.

A Cabin Radio reporter at the legislature on Friday asked to see the sign-in book kept by security staff. The book meticulously records the comings and goings of all visitors and staff, including MLAs.

An official on duty refused the reporter permission to inspect the log for April 17, saying a warrant would be required and the sergeant-at-arms must be consulted. The reporter was told the sergeant-at-arms had gone for lunch. The sergeant-at-arms, Brian Thagard, could not be immediately reached by phone.

Though Norn conducted an interview on the subject of his isolation early on Friday morning, he has not responded to calls or text messages since. MLAs are understood to be in a full day of committee meetings, in which Norn can participate by video call while in isolation.

He earlier said he was feeling physically well but “mentally exhausted.” His relative is also doing well, Norn said.

Norn’s infection and emergence from isolation have triggered a string of incidents in Yellowknife. It is unusual for a person with Covid-19 to be publicly identified, but Norn said he had chosen to come forward because he occupies a leadership position and realized residents would have “all kinds of speculation.”

An exposure advisory has been issued for Yellowknife’s Taste of Saigon restaurant, visited by Norn on Monday, April 19, a day after he said his isolation period ended.

The city’s Racquet Club gym has confirmed a “small group of contacts” was potentially exposed to Covid-19 on April 18, the day Norn said his isolation finished. A gym employee confirmed the possible exposure was connected to the Norn cases.

And Yellowknife’s École St Patrick High School told parents 40 contacts had been notified after potential exposure on April 19 associated with the same two cases.

The territorial government has so far said the two cases do not warrant the declaration of an outbreak. As of 1pm on Friday, no other connected cases had been announced.

Sarah Pruys contributed reporting.

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