Despite border and travel restrictions easing federally, the NWT government gave no indication it will relax mandatory isolation requirements for children under 12 and their caregivers.
The federal government on Monday announced plans to ease border restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers. On August 9, fully vaccinated United States citizens and permanent residents will be permitted to enter Canada for non-essential travel.
Beyond that, the Canadian border will open to all fully vaccinated travellers on September 7 providing they have received a full course of a Canadian-approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to their entry into Canada.
As part of the easing of border restrictions for American citizens and residents, the Canadian federal government will allow unvaccinated children under 12 years old to enter the country if they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated caregiver – a parent, step-parent, guardian, or tutor – who meets entry requirements.
However, the NWT government this week suggested it had no intention of similarly relaxing restrictions for unvaccinated children aged under 12, who at the moment have no access to any vaccine approved in Canada.
Across Canada, the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia have no isolation requirements on entry. In New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and Yukon, children aged under 12 don’t have to isolate if everyone aged over 12 in the travelling party is fully vaccinated.
Only the NWT and Nunavut are different.
While the NWT eased its isolation rules on June 21, removing mandatory isolation requirements for fully vaccinated NWT residents, all unvaccinated travellers are still required to isolate for 10 days upon returning to the territory. The territory says that includes children under 12 and their family members who travelled.
Cabin Radio asked the NWT government if its plans to change isolation rules for children under 12 in line with eased federal restrictions.
In a written response that did not address the questions asked, the GNWT gave no suggestion it would do so.
The territorial government said it anticipates the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine “will be approved for children under 12 in the fall of 2021,” which is so far the only indication of when isolation requirements for children and their families might change.
Meanwhile, 3,000 gargle and spit Covid-19 test kits are being shipped to the NWT for “school-aged children” according to a Facebook post shared by Kam Lake MLA Caitlin Cleveland on Tuesday.
NWT parents expressed frustration earlier this year when isolation and testing requirements made parenting during the pandemic even more challenging.
The territory’s health minister, Julie Green, this week extended the territorial public health emergency to at least August 3. The emergency has been in place since March 2020.
That decision came at the end of a three-day music festival held in Yellowknife with crowds, minimal mask-wearing, and no vaccination requirements. Large outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people were approved in early June, followed by eased restrictions on indoor gatherings later that month.