MLAs will resume sitting at the Northwest Territories’ Legislative Assembly on November 22 at 1:30pm, more than a month later than originally planned, following a Covid-19 outbreak.
The second session of the 19th Legislative Assembly was originally scheduled to resume on October 14. After the onset of both an outbreak in Yellowknife and a localized outbreak at the legislature building, the fall sitting has been delayed several times.
Speaker Frederick Blake Jr first announced a delay until October 21 and a virtual sitting. After the number of people with Covid-19 grew – including several of the legislature’s technical staff, compromising its ability to hold a sitting online – Blake pushed the dates back further.
Now, the legislature says it’s planning an in-person sitting once MLAs do at last reconvene in a month’s time, but that could shift online if the situation changes.
The sitting will be two days shorter than previously planned, with greater gaps between sitting days.
Originally, MLAs had been set to meet from October 14 to November 4 for a total of 14 days, with breaks no greater than four days between sitting dates.
They will now meet for 12 days from November 22 to 26, November 29 to December 2, and December 7 to 9. The assembly said those dates will not change if the sitting is held virtually.
The number of active Covid-19 cases across the NWT has declined in the past week. While case numbers are dropping in Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀, they have recently increased in Inuvik and Hay River.
The territory’s chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, says she plans to lift temporary restrictions on Friday if case numbers continue to decline in Yellowknife, Ndilǫ, Dettah, and Behchokǫ̀.
Replacing those restrictions will be a territory-wide order limiting indoor gatherings to 25 people and outdoor gatherings to 50 people. Non-essential businesses and organizations can increase those limits up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors if they implement a proof of vaccination requirement.
The territorial government said on Monday all GNWT workers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of November, with exceptions considered on a case-by-case basis.