Warning of a recent Covid-19 spike in the Yukon, the NWT urged residents to exercise caution when travelling between the two territories.
The Yukon government announced two new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases in the territory to nine. Three of the infected people are currently in hospital.
A number of public exposure notices in Whitehorse have been issued as a result. The Yukon government is asking anyone who was may have been affected to immediately isolate and arrange for testing.
The CBC reported earlier this week that a Covid-19 outbreak had also been declared at Yukon’s Eagle Gold Mine.
In a statement, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola cautioned NWT residents travelling to the Yukon to follow public health advice provided by the Yukon government.
“Knowing the Covid-19 situation in your destination before you travel will allow you to make informed decisions about your health and safety,” Dr Kandola said.
As it stands, the NWT allows exemptions to isolation for travellers from the Yukon on a case-by-case basis. According to Kandola, her office is not changing that exemption process.
“Each exemption is reviewed and if there are high-risk situations, like a person visiting an exposure site, identified as a close contact, or part of an outbreak cluster, the OCPHO may make recommendations for testing or even self-isolation upon return to NWT,” she said, using an acronym for the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.
“Since the situation is evolving, the OCPHO may also require testing for all travellers returning from affected communities.”
Kandola’s statement comes a day after the GNWT announced updates to its Emerging Wisely plan, including plans to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated residents in “early summer” and eradicate all pandemic restrictions by “mid to late fall.”
Exact dates were not given for the expected changes. The GNWT said precise timelines will depend on local and national Covid-19 vaccination rates growing, and national case numbers falling.
As of last weekend, the NWT’s adult vaccination rate was 62-percent full and 69-percent partial.
Nunavut reopens NWT travel link
Meanwhile, Nunavut has reopened its portion of the common travel area with the NWT.
That means travellers to Nunavut from the NWT who haven’t left either territory for the past 14 days can enter Nunavut without completing 14 days of isolation.
Nunavut had closed its common travel area with the NWT on May 3 after a Covid-19 outbreak was declared at Yellowknife’s NJ Macpherson School.
Those who are currently waiting in isolation in the NWT can apply to the Government of Nunavut to return earlier than scheduled by completing a declaration form.
Mask-wearing and physical distancing protocols must be followed for the entirety of the return trip.
Sarah Sibley contributed reporting.