All fully vaccinated NWT residents are now exempt from isolation, the territorial government confirmed on Monday, hours after Canada met targets in the new Emerging Wisely.
In a news release, the territory’s chief public health officer said fully vaccinated NWT residents and essential workers will no longer need to isolate on entering the territory from elsewhere in Canada. Federal rules governing travel outside Canada still apply.
The change – which came into effect at 5pm MT on Monday – comes after the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases across Canada dipped below 1,000, the second of two criteria in the NWT’s updated Emerging Wisely pandemic recovery plan. The first, related to vaccination rates, had already been met.
“As vaccination rates rise in the NWT and across Canada, we’ll continue to see case counts drop and restrictions eased,” said Dr Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer.
“Residents and communities must now take personal responsibility to evaluate their own risk and make informed decisions.”
Monday’s change does not allow non-residents to enter the territory for leisure purposes without isolating. That’s only due to happen once the NWT has 75-percent full vaccination, according to the new Emerging Wisely. Kandola expects that target to be met in late summer or early fall.
All travellers will still be required to submit a self-isolation plan for contract tracing purposes, should there be future cases of Covid-19 in the territory.
“Household members must follow the same self-isolation guidance as the traveller, regardless of their vaccination status. If vaccination status differs for multiple travellers, the rest of the household must isolate for the longest period,” said the NWT government in a statement.
Protect NWT, the territory’s pandemic enforcement wing, said approval of those plans may require additional processing time as the change kicks in.
Residents are asked to wait a few days to apply if they do not plan to travel before the Canada Day weekend.
“People who are partially vaccinated are still required to self-isolate for a minimum of eight days with a day eight negative test,” the statement continued.
“People who are unvaccinated, including children under 12, are required to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days with a day 10 negative test. Children under two will not be required to get a test on day 10 but only isolate until then.”
People travelling from outside the NWT to a small community will require Covid-19 tests on day one and day 14 after arrival into the territory.
If you have received your vaccine in the NWT, you will not require proof of vaccination on entry.
For more than a year, as a means of stemming the spread of Covid-19 into its smaller communities, the NWT has insisted on periods of isolation after travel for almost all people entering the territory.
That figure, usually 14 days, only recently lowered to eight days – with a negative Covid-19 test result on day eight – for certain travellers.
“This is exciting news, but many people, especially those with unvaccinated family members, may feel anxious as public health orders loosen,” said Kam Lake MLA Caitlin Cleveland of Monday’s changes.
In a Facebook post, Cleveland wrote: “Some will choose not to travel. Some will choose to avoid certain gatherings. Some may feel anxious as they learn their new boundaries. Let’s all be kind and remember that it’s OK for people to decide what works best for them within Emerging Wisely.
“As a parent of unvaccinated children, I know that our eased restrictions will mean that Covid will sneak past our borders a little easier and that this may mean I choose to emerge with a little bit of heightened hand-washing and opt for outdoor activities with friends.”