Covid-19 public health measures in 10 communities will be easing on Feb. 28, similar to that of existing Covid restrictions in Nunavut’s 15 other communities.
Nunavummiut in Pangnirtung, Arctic Bay, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Coral Harbour, Sanikiluaq, Cambridge Bay, Kugaaruk, Resolute Bay and Pond Inlet can enjoy larger gatherings and reduced restrictions at the end of the month.
These will be the following measures following Feb. 28:
– Outdoor gatherings increase to 50 people.
– Indoor gatherings increase to 10 people plus household members.
– Restaurants and licensed facilities may open at 25 people capacity or 25 per cent capacity, whichever is less. No singing or dancing will be permitted.
– Public indoor gatherings increase to 25 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.
– Gym capacity is 25 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.
– Libraries, museums, and galleries capacity increases to 25 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.
– Arena capacity may increase to 50 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less, as well as a maximum of 50 spectators. Team sports are allowed.
– Places of worship are limited to 50 people or 25 per cent capacity, no singing.
– Long-term care facilities may allow two visitors per resident from their immediate family.
“There is no changes to public health measures in Iglulik or Taloyoak, please remember masks remain mandatory in public spaces,” said Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson.
Living with Covid-19
Also on Feb. 28, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Nunavummiut will be able to travel back to their home community to isolate, following proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departing. Once home, they are asked to isolate for 10 days. Any unvaccinated or partially vaccinated household members must also isolate for 10 days in this case.
“Once the changes come into effect, there will be a slight increase of introductions but its a fraction of what there is compared to travel between communities and other risks of what’s happening at the moment,” said Dr. Patterson.
At the end of February, Nunavummiut ages five and up will have had the chance to receive two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, causing fewer and fewer people to isolate at the hubs.
“The overall impact is going to be quite small,” Patterson adds.
This will mark the start of changes to the Government of Nunavut’s pandemic strategy, as premier P.J. Akeeagok noted.
“Since 2020, our strategy in dealing with the pandemic has been to keep our territory Covid-free. Today we need a new approach,” he said.
“We now know a great deal more about Covid-19 and how the virus mutates into different strains. We are also learning important lessons on what works on managing the risk of Covid-19 in our communities.”
The creation and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines has helped with this.
Akeeagok later added that over the next few weeks and months Nunavut will be following the lead of other jurisdictions in Canada. He still urged residents of the territory to follow existing public health measures.
The Government of Nunavut will be looking at ways to move away from mandatory isolation for those exposed, limiting gathering sizes and other measures while maintaining its ability to respond to outbreaks in high-risk settings such as schools and Elders facilities.
A resident of Iqaluit has been diagnosed with the Omicron B.A.2 strain, which is reported to be a more contagious strain of Omicron, however according to Dr. Patterson there is “no evidence it has started spreading.”
Patterson also later noted Iqaluit will continue to have more cases of Covid-19 proportional to other communities due to receiving more people from the south and it being a medical travel hub.
As of Feb. 22, there are 310 confirmed active cases in 21 communities, 23 people have been hospitalized and 1,561 have recovered from the virus.
Active infections by community as of Feb. 22:
Arctic Bay: 1
Baker Lake: 5
Cambridge Bay: 3
Clyde River: 2
Coral Harbour: 4
Gjoa Haven: 10
Pond Inlet: 24
Rankin Inlet: 40
Resolute Bay: 4