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NWT’s Covid-19 isolation rules won’t change as case numbers climb

A sign at Inuvik's airport instructs people to fill out a self-isolation plan on arrival from outside the NWT
A sign at Inuvik's airport instructs people to fill out a self-isolation plan on arrival from outside the NWT. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

As the number of Covid-19 cases across Canada climbs, the territory says self-isolation requirements after travel will not become more strict.

Dawn Ostrem, a spokesperson for the NWT’s Covid-19 Secretariat, said by email the territorial government “will not retroactively re-introduce restrictions that have been removed previously based on the Canada case count being over 1,000,” referring to the seven-day rolling average across the country.

As of Wednesday, that average of new cases nationally was more than 1,500

Fully vaccinated NWT residents have been exempt from isolation on their return from travel since June 21, when the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases across Canada dipped below 1,000. That was the second of two criteria in the NWT’s updated Emerging Wisely pandemic recovery plan.



However, this week’s increase in case numbers across Canada does move the NWT further from fully reopening to all leisure travel – the next step in that recovery plan.

Three things need to happen before non-NWT residents can travel freely in the territory: the NWT must achieve 75-percent full vaccination, Canada’s seven-day average must return below 1,000 new cases, and there must be nationwide full vaccination coverage of 66 to 75 percent.

The two national targets were both met on July 30, but the NWT’s full vaccination rate in adults is currently only 72 percent.

Since the NWT did not reach the 75-percent target earlier and Covid-19 cases are now climbing, the window during which leisure travel could have opened up in the past two weeks is now likely closed until the fourth wave of infection has receded, even if the NWT reaches its vaccination goal.



When the refreshed Emerging Wisely was first unveiled in June, the document cautioned that should a new variant of concern emerge or the situation change for the worse, a further update may be required.

For example, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola said she would “stop and look at what’s happening” if daily new case counts across Canada moved back above 1,000 having dipped beneath it.

Depending on the trigger of that increase – such as another wave or a new variant – Kandola said she may need to “reconsider” some aspects of the gradual recovery.