N.W.T. gathering restrictions extended, some communities back to in-school learning Jan. 24

A temporary public health order banning household gatherings of more than 10 people is being extended to allow more time for COVID-19 cases in the N.W.T. to decrease, while in-school learning could return to communities where transmission has peaked.

CPHO expects cases to peak in the next week, with the exception of Inuvik, Fort Smith

Dr. Kami Kandola, the N.W.T.'s chief public health officer, addresses reporters in the Legislative Assembly Monday, May 3. Her office announced Tuesday that tighter gathering restrictions will continue in the territory until Jan. 30, but that students in some communities may return to school in person on Jan. 24. (Liny Lamberink/CBC)

The Office of Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) has extended a territory-wide temporary gathering order to the end of the month, but has lifted a recommendation for at-home learning in some N.W.T. communities beginning Jan. 24.

The OCPHO announced the extension in press release Tuesday night, saying the current outbreak is expected to peak in the territory next week. 

Extending the tighter gathering orders to Jan. 30 "would allow more time for COVID-19 numbers to decrease."

Household gatherings of more than 10 people, including no more than five people from outside the household, continue to be banned. So do "high risk" activities including dancing, singing, traditional games, swimming and indoor sports. Restaurants, bars and lounges will continue to be restricted to six patrons per table, with no mingling of guests between tables. 

The OCPHO is no longer recommending at-home learning and work from home, beginning Jan 24 in Aklavik, Behchokǫ, Délı̨nę, Fort Providence, Hay River, Whatì, and in Yellowknife, Ndilǫ and Dettah.

That's because the OCHPO expects cases have peaked in those communities, and are unlikely to bounce back. 

Cases rising in Fort Smith and Inuvik

However, that's not the case for Fort Smith and Inuvik, where the announcement indicates there have been significant increases in transmission and community spread. 

There, the OCPHO recommends at-home learning continue, and that employers continue to accommodate employees working from home, where possible. As well, travel within and outside the territory is still not recommended for people in those communities. 

The territory's daily case counts show there's been one additional hospitalization in the N.W.T. since Monday.