All Nunavummiut are now able to travel between Churchill, Manitoba and Nunavut without self-isolating. Since June 22, only medical travellers have been permitted to travel between Nunavut and Churchill without self-isolating.
“This bubble is exclusive to the community of Churchill and does not extend to other regions of Manitoba,” said chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson during Monday’s press conference.
The travel bubble allows individuals to travel by air, land and water and exempts all travellers from the 14-day isolation period under three specific conditions: travel must originate from either Nunavut or Churchill; all travellers must have not been outside Churchill or Nunavut two weeks prior to their travels; travellers must remain in Churchill or Nunavut for the duration of their travels.
Patterson said prior to leaving Nunavut, travellers should contact the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) and provide contact information, such as an address and phone number, as well as a written declaration, which can be obtained by emailing CPHOtravelrequests@gov.nu.ca.
Air travellers must obtain a letter from the CPHO authorizing travel, otherwise they will not be permitted to board the flight.
“Those who leave the common travel area outside of Churchill will need to isolate for 14 days at a government isolation facility prior to returning to Nunavut,” emphasized Patterson.
On June 15, Nunavut formed its first travel bubble between the territory and Northwest Territories.
Presently, discussion about a travel bubble between Nunavut and Nunavik is an “ongoing conversation,” said Patterson.
Licensed establishments return to regular hours
With zero Covid-19 cases in Nunavut, Patterson announced further easing of restrictions in the territory.
All licensed establishments in Nunavut will be permitted to open with regular hours starting July 20. This means any restaurant, club or bar that is licensed to serve alcohol will no longer have strict limits on their hours of operation. Rules of maintaining physical distancing and staying at half capacity still remain unchanged.
Country food an option at isolation hubs
Health Minister George Hickes announced that country food will now be offered at the Ottawa, Edmonton and Winnipeg isolation hubs.
“One of the concerns or issues that was brought to light was access to country food,” said Hickes, referring to the feedback received from isolation guests.
The types of country foods that will be offered and how it will be implemented is still being planned, he said.
The program is in its initial stages, explained the minister, adding, “I don’t have a lot of details right now.”
The food costs however, will be covered by the Government of Nunavut, while Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. will assist with the shipping costs.
There is not an established budget for the country food.
“We’ll be taking it out of the food budget that we have allocated to the isolation hubs,” explained Hickes.
In early May, the GN retracted its announcement asking Nunavummiut to cover their isolation fees at hotels due to logistical factors.
From March to June 12, $5,904,928 million had been spent on self-isolation hubs.
When asked whether the GN would reconsider requiring Nunavummiut to cover isolation fees in the future, Hickes replied, “I’d say it’s highly unlikely that we would be looking at charging people for the isolation.”
Hickes also took the opportunity to reiterate that non-essential travel is not recommended.
“I know I’ve cancelled my travel plans this summer,” he said.
Nunavut and Covid-19 this fall
Patterson said Nunavut will “certainly be much better off” for dealing with Covid-19 in September or October compared to now.
By fall, “We should have a storage or cache of personal protective equipment (PPE) that we estimate could last three months if we’re using PPE everywhere across the territory at the same rate,” said Patterson. “We should have at least two diagnostic devices in territory functioning to provide most if not all of our diagnostic needs.”
There are still no confirmed or probable cases of Covid-19 in Nunavut. Presently, there are 1,553 people under investigation for the virus in the territory.