The NWT has officially moved into the first phase of relaxing some Covid-19 restrictions.

On Friday, the territory implemented an order to ease weeks-old restrictions put in place in the fight against the novel coronavirus. It’s part of its three pronged “Emergency Wisely” plan unveiled last week.

So what does that mean for Yellowknife residents and business owners impacted by strict health safety precautions introduced during the global pandemic?

Social gatherings

For residents, it means more personal facetime with friends and visitors previously barred from entering homes.

Now, NWT residents can have up to five people they don’t live with inside their residence.. A maximum of 10 people in total are allowed inside a home at any given time.

Physical distancing— staying two metres apart — is still strongly recommended. The government is urging Northerners to keep the social circle small: officials suggest selecting a “Fave Five,” a handful of close friends to invite over.

“If you’re having someone over who’s older, has a weaker immune system, or has an illness already, we strongly recommend your house doesn’t have anyone else over while they are. Our message to NWT residents: use your common sense to protect each other while we all get some relief from being cooped up,” stated the GNWT’s news release.

The new rules also have implications for outdoor activities.

Outdoor activities

Up to 25 people can now gather outside, but physical distancing measures are still in place and must be adhered to. That means sports clubs and outdoor organized sports events, with the exception of rugby, can get up and running again.

Day-use areas at parks and outdoor kitchen shelters have also received the greenlight to reopen, but overnight camping is still prohibited at private and publicly-owned campgrounds until phase two of the territory’s plan is implemented.

Certain types of mass outdoor gatherings, including farmer’s markets, are now allowed with limited capacites and health safety measures in place.


Some business establishments are permitted to open their doors under new rules.
Museums, art galleries,personal service establishments, massage therapy clinics and chiropractors are among those organizations. But they can only reopen if they’ve introduced the required public health safety measures.

As for the territory’s longstanding travel and physical distancing restrictions, they aren’t going anywhere yet.

Those orders, along with rules for essential workers and remote camp-workers, remain in place for the “foreseeable future.”

So does the order requiring residents to refrain from activities if they’re sick.

“We aren’t out of the woods yet,” wrote Premier Caroline Cochrane in last week’s news release.

“We need to work together to keep COVID-19 out of the NWT,” continued Cochrane.
Health minister Diane Thom called the relaxation of restrictions “exciting” but reminded residents that the territory’s Compliance and Enforcement Task force will still be responding to reports of breaches of compliance of the new orders.

Here’s a look at Phase One of the ‘Emerging Wisely Plan:’ 

This is what all three stage of the plan look like:

Source: Northwest Territories Health Department


Brendan Burke

As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility...

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