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Nunavut lifts some Covid-19 restrictions, allows in-territory travel

The Government of Nunavut is now easing pandemic-related public health measures that have been in place since March. Starting today, daycares, parks and playgrounds are open and outdoor gatherings may include up to 25 people.

Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson announced on June 1 that, effective immediately, restrictions for in-territory travel between communities are lifted. However, travel outside of Nunavut is still not recommended.

“Individuals who are traveling outside of the territory need to be aware not only of the isolation procedures to return, but also the measures that other jurisdictions may have in place to limit or discourage travel,” he said.

To enter the territory, Nunavummiut must undergo a 14-day self-isolation period at one of the GN designed hubs in the south.

On June 8, libraries, museums and galleries may reopen, but only for individual browsing. In other words, group sessions within these places are still prohibited. Across the territory, there will also be increased availability of in-person health assessments at health centres.

Next Monday, GN employees who are presently working from home will be returning to their offices, says Lorne Kusugak, minister of Community and Government Services. Rajnesh Sharma/NNSL photo 

Government workplaces and retail outlets will also be permitted to open on June 8. They must have safe measures in place and adhere to social distancing protocols. GN employees who are presently working from home will be returning to their workplaces, announced Lorne Kusugak, minister of Community and Government Services.

“This decision to was made in consultation with the public health team and the workers safety and public compensation commission,” Kusugak said.

“Based on the current evidence on risk and impacts of measures, reopening workplaces is considered a low risk measure.”

Although the GN offices will be open, there will be limited public access to them in order to support social distancing. Kusugak did not elaborate on the specifics of this limitation.

There is no strict requirement for GN employees to wear masks in the workplace. If Covid-19 is found within the territory, the issue of wearing masks will be reassessed.

GN workers who need time to sort out childcare options, should contact their immediate supervisors, said the minister.

On June 15 physiotherapy, dental, massage therapy and chiropractic services may resume. In two weeks, gyms and pools may also reopen, but only for solo workouts and swims.

Fluid situation

All the aforementioned measures are subject to change or alter should present conditions in relation to Covid-19 change, said Patterson.

Nunavut is a bit slower to open back up because "there's a slight concern that there's Covid-19 in territory that we have missed," said Patterson. "And as we open up as we see social contacts expand, we could see transmission start to occur in communities and we're still relying on delayed diagnostics."

"While we are in a position to alter measures, we are not in a position to take social distancing for granted."

Through contact tracing of persons under investigation, health staff have noticed that people's contact bubbles are becoming noticeably larger.

"Larger contact bubbles make it more challenging to identify and prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other infections in our communities," said Patterson.

“Covid-19 continues to pose a risk to Nunavummiut and we are not immune to this pandemic,” he said.

Based on the GN's plan to reopen the territory, assessments and decisions about public health measures will be made by the chief public health officer every two weeks.

As of today, 142 people are currently under investigation.

The number of people presenting symptoms consistent with Covid-19 has declined and thus the number of Covid-19 related tests have dropped, said Patterson.

Nunavut still remains the only jurisdiction in Canada with zero cases of Covid-19.