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An individual in the South Slave region was caught failing to follow self-isolation protocols July 22.

The fine upon conviction, including a $225 victim surcharge, is $1,725. The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) would not release any further information about the person or where the violation took place to “prevent undue stigma and public-shaming due to the comparatively low number of charges,” Health and Social Services department spokesperson Mike Westwick said in a press release Wednesday.

The volume of calls received by the GNWT 811 Covid-19 hotline is increasing, but the bulk of the 228 calls received between July 15 and 25 were related to travel and self-isolation plans. Just 13 were placed to make a complaint, according to data released July 29.

Compliance and Enforcement Taskforce members have carried out 1,807 investigations across the NWT related to public health orders, issued 168 verbal or written warnings and just eight $1,725 tickets, all in June and July.

RELATED REPORTING: Six people fined $1,725 apiece for Covid violations since June, report shows

Out-of-territory visitors

Westwick wrote that the taskforce hasn’t found any grounds for enforcement in terms of out-of-territory licence plates despite that being a “common concern” its members hear about.

The K’atlodeeche First Nation has raised such concerns and last week re-established a checkpoint on the road into the community in order to turn away vehicles with licence plates from outside the NWT.

RELATED REPORTING: KFN sets up new checkpoint to stop vehicles with out-of-territory plates

“By-and-large, folks seem to be following the rules,” Westwick wrote. “Anyone can come to our territory to work, live or study. But like your friends or neighbours who may have travelled down to Alberta or B.C. recently, they must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival with very few exceptions.”

Visitors are receiving direction on heading straight to places of isolation or isolation centres and are told that physical distance must be maintained if stopping for something essential like gas.

“In the case they don’t show up at an isolation centre, we are able to follow-up because of the information we collect,” Westwick said.

Concerns remain with compliance

Some infractions of health regulations were still “particularly troubling” to the OCPHO, such as not physically distancing on the way to self-isolation, like in gas stations; not following self-isolation protocols; misrepresenting purposes by, for example, stating their purpose as work or traditional harvesting but actually participating in leisure travel and putting smaller communities at risk; and entering and socializing in communities on the way to self-isolation.

Members of the public should remind people seen violating the rules that they’re in place to protect residents from the spread of Covid-19.

If people don’t feel comfortable reminding others about the rules in such situations, they can call 1-833-378-8297 or email ProtectNWT@gov.nt.ca to file a complaint.

Investigations into more than 1,800 allegations

The Compliance and Enforcement Taskforce has investigated at least 1,804 cases of alleged violations of health orders as of  July 29, an increase of more than 100 cases since the last set of data was released on July 22.

A total of 907 have been in the North Slave region, 409 in the South Slave, 327 in the Beaufort Delta, 88 in the Dehcho and 73 in the Sahtu. The number for the Sahtu has remained the same since July 22.

There have been 63 verbal warnings issued in the Beaufort Delta, 35 in the South Slave, 31 in the North Slave, nine in the Sahtu and three in the Dehcho region.

Fifteen written warnings were issued in the Sahtu region, nine in the South Slave, two in the Dehcho and one in the North Slave.

None of the investigations or charges have led to court summons.

Self-isolation plans

The number of self-isolation plans (SIPs) approved by the GNWT increased since the last reporting period, reaching 708 for July 19-25, the highest number since the first data set on May 3, eclipsing 707 for June 28-July 4.

Most travellers whose SIPs have been approved remain NWT residents, the majority are from Yellowknife and most are entering the NWT by air.

As of Tuesday, 1,165 people were undergoing their 14-day self-isolation periods, down from 1,189 on July 22.

Since March 21, a total of 12,166 SIPs have been submitted.

A total of 1,654 SIPs were pending approval.

Of that number, 60.7 per cent are NWT residents, 12.2 per cent are essential service workers who have received permission to work, 12 per cent are non-NWT residents, eight per cent are non-NWT workers, 5.3 per cent are “other workers” with permission to work, and 1.8 per cent are NWT workers.

ProtectNWT Communications

The activity of ProtectNWT staff receiving phone calls and emails for July 19-25 has increased since the previous period of July 12-18, according to a separate OCPHO report.

Work devoted to phone calls received by ProtectNWT increased to 1,540 minutes during July 19-25, about 25 and a half hours for that week, up from the 1,252 minutes of the previous week. Time spent on emails received was almost the same, at 1,528 minutes, an increase of only six minutes from the week before.

 

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Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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  1. Thank you for the report. I have a question though:
    How the OCPHO would know who was isolated and who wasn’t?