Getting into the NWT will be a little more difficult thanks to new requirements announced by Dr. Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, on Monday.
But if all goes well, there could be some easing of the restrictions already put in place.
Kandola, along with Premier Caroline Cochrane and Diane Thom, minister of Health and Social Services, held a press conference to talk about why the new requirements were laid down. Through those requirements, anyone who comes into the territory from outside, no matter who they are and why they’re here, are now subject to new measures.
The measures are an amendment to the original public health order of March 21.
Residents who are returning home must now compete a self-isolation plan within 24 hours of returning and check in with ProtectNWT on the second, fourth, 10th and 14th day. Flight crews and airline workers are also part of the new requirements as they must self-isolate if in the territory for longer than 36 hours. Supply-chain workers are also subject to that order.
Travellers going through the NWT to another destination must physically-distance if they’re here for less than 12 hours but self-isolate if the stay is longer than 12 hours while essential workers, support staff, construction workers and correctional officers not required to return to work right away must complete a self-isolation plan in accordance with regulation on returning residents.
Kandola said workers who come into the territory are crucial to the management of the crisis but since they’re coming from the south, they present a greater risk.
“We’ll be able to better track and enforce those who enter our territory,” she said. “We are limiting their movement when they are here and setting clear expectations of what they must do both on-shift and off-shift.”
There’s also the encouragement of having employers and employees be more accountable for their actions through what’s been added, she said.
Another reason for the tighter border control measures is to help stop a second or third wave of the virus coming in, which has long been feared by doctors and experts around the world.
“We have the fortune, along with a very few other jurisdictions, to be in containment mode,” she said. “As long as we don’t have community transmission, as long as we have tight border security, we may be in a position watching other jurisdictions and countries go through a second or third wave. If we can maintain tight control, we can stay in containment mode.”
But while these may look like new restrictions on people, said Kandola, the idea behind them is to begin the loosening of restrictions inside the territory as tightening up the border is the last restriction required.
“If we have good control on who’s coming in and we continue to have no cases, no evidence of community spread, we can actually move forward and start relaxing some restrictions,” she said.
As for any sort of date of when loosening could begin, Kandola gave no indication only to say that more information will be coming “soon.”
What we also know now is that the current state of emergency the NWT has been under since March has been extended by two more weeks to May 12. April 28 is when the state of emergency was supposed to come to an end but it was extended by Cochrane on Tuesday afternoon.
New requirements under public health order
All NWT residents who return home must complete a self-isolation plan within 24 hours of returning and check in with ProtectNWT on days two, six, 10 and 14 of self-isolation;
Flight crews, airline workers and supply-chain workers must self-isolate while not working but only if they remain in the NWT for longer than 36 hours;
People going through the NWT to another destination must practice physical distancing if in the territory for less than 12 hours and must self-isolate if here longer than 12 hours;Essential workers, support staff, construction workers and correctional officers not required to return to work right away must complete self-isolation plan in accordance with regulation on returning residents;
Employers of essential workers, support staff, construction workers and correctional officers must apply to have workers not self-isolate for 14 days before starting work (must submit form to ProtectNWT).