North

N.W.T. officials shorten self-isolation requirement for fully vaccinated residents

Northwest Territories officials say fully vaccinated residents won't have to isolate for the full 14 days when returning to the territory from elsewhere in Canada.

People returning from out-of-territory can take a COVID-19 test on their 8th day of isolation

N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane along with other officials announced the changes to the territory's public health orders on Wednesday. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

Northwest Territories officials say fully vaccinated residents won't have to isolate for the full 14 days when returning to the territory from elsewhere in Canada.

Once fully vaccinated residents have completed the first eight days of isolation after returning from domestic travel, they can take an approved test on or after the eighth day, and if negative, they no longer need to isolate.

Fully vaccinated household members of fully vaccinated returning travellers do not have to self-isolate. If the traveller in the household receives a positive test after eight days of self-isolation, the household members will be given instructions by healthcare providers.

Before this change, people entering the territory, along with their household, were required to complete a full 14-day isolation unless they had an exemption.

The self-isolation requirement changes are applicable to all fully vaccinated travellers entering the N.W.T. under existing exemption criteria.

The territory says this is to ensure sufficient measures are taken to mitigate potential spread of COVID-19.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola says a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Kandola made the announcement at a news conference on Wednesday with Premier Caroline Cochrane, along with Health Minister Julie Green and Territorial Medical Director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg.

Data for people's vaccine intake is available in their electronic medical record, Kandola said.

Returning travellers will have to wear a mask in public spaces for the remainder of the 14 days after entering the territory, and return to isolation if they do have symptoms. 

The new rules don't apply to international travellers, who will still have to follow federal government isolation rules, even if fully vaccinated, Kandola said. 

Children returning from travel are still required to self-isolate for 14 days, since they can't get vaccinated. People travelling with a non-vaccinated person must still self-isolate for 14 days after returning to the territory.

The changes that apply to returning fully vaccinated residents will also apply to fully vaccinated non-residents if granted approval from the office of the chief public health officer to travel within the N.W.T. 

Kandola says as the third wave of COVID-19 goes down and as vaccines continues to roll out, territory officials will look further into the possibility of one week long isolation requirements.

Vaccine uptake

As well, officials said 51 per cent of the eligible population in the N.W.T. has been fully vaccinated, and 63 per cent have received the first dose of the vaccine.

However, Minister Green said, the territory is starting to see a "lull" in vaccine uptake.

Green said uptake of the vaccine is strongest among those 65 years old and older, and the lowest uptake is among young adults ages 18 to 29.

"Now is not the time to be complacent," she said, urging people to contact local health centres to find out how to access the vaccine.

The territory says it will be providing vaccine coverage data on its COVID-19 dashboard.

Missed the update? Watch it here:

Tourism this summer

The territory also announced a change to restrictions that allow remote tourism operators to host out-of-territory visitors beginning this summer.

This means once operators create and have an approved remote tourism COVID-19 operations plan in place, they can host out-of-territory clients who will self-isolate on the site of the remote tourism location, instead of in one of the N.W.T.'s isolation hubs. Visitors will still have to meet existing criteria to enter the territory.

Territorial officials say the "remote nature of these businesses means clients from out-of-territory will have no, or very minimal, contact with N.W.T. residents and communities during their stay."

Officials say the change is being announced now to give tourism operators time to work through logistics ahead of accepting clients this summer. This includes submitting their application packages and providing any additional information required for approval of the plan by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

As of Wednesday, there were two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in N.W.T., both in Fort Smith.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated there were no active cases in the Northwest Territories. In fact, as of Wednesday, there were two confirmed cases.
    Apr 21, 2021 2:00 PM CT

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