Details of the NWT’s new-look plan to lift pandemic health restrictions will now not be made public until the week of June 7, officials say.
The long-awaited update to the Emerging Wisely plan – essentially untouched since June last year – has been delayed by more than a month, in part because of this month’s Covid-19 outbreak in Yellowknife.
The update is expected to soon eliminate restrictions on outdoor gatherings as long as certain health precautions are followed, a change anticipated to arrive just in time for July’s Folk on the Rocks music festival in Yellowknife.
Earlier on Friday, health minister Julie Green said the document would be made public in the first week of June. She also highlighted a forthcoming June 3 briefing for MLAs, to be live-streamed on the legislature’s social channels, as a chance for politicians to quiz the NWT’s chief public health officer.
However, a spokesperson for the NWT government later said the document would not in fact be made available to the public until at least the week of June 7, and the updated plan “will not be presented during the committee briefing being held on June 3.”
Green had been responding to questions from Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson, who asked whether the NWT had left behind the crisis scenario that led to limitations on gathering sizes and travel restrictions in the first place.
Johnson asked Green whether the territory had “now moved beyond a risk of overwhelming the healthcare system.” Green said that was a question for Dr Kami Kandola, the territory’s chief public health officer, and invited him to ask it at the June 3 briefing.
Meanwhile, Green said the NWT would expand vaccination of children aged 12 to 17 to all communities after more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived.
The NWT just received 3,510 more Pfizer doses, Green told the legislature. So far, Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one being offered in the territory with approval for use on people younger than 18 years old.
Vaccination clinics for youth began in Hay River, Fort Smith, and Inuvik this week, and will open in smaller communities “in the following weeks,” Green said.
The health minister pledged to have offered at least one dose of Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine to all eligible children in the territory by the end of the school year.