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Nunavut and Northwest Territories to create travel bubble

The Nunavut government is preparing to lift its travel restriction between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, Chief Public Health Officer Michael Patterson said Thursday.

Nunavut government also opens Iqaluit beer and wine stores for elder-only hours

Nunavut Health Minister George Hickes asks residents to educated themselves on travel restrictions in other jurisdictions. (Beth Brown/CBC)

The Nunavut government is preparing to lift its travel restriction between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, Chief Public Health Officer Michael Patterson said Thursday in a news conference at the Legislative Assembly.  

Health officials are planning to create a two-territory bubble, but have to work out some restrictions first.  

"We're trying to make sure it doesn't become a loophole to avoid isolation," Patterson said.   

On Monday the government extended its public health emergency until June 11. At the same time, it announced opening up plans for the month of June. Next week some retail locations will be able to open. Gyms, pools and non-essential health services will follow later in the month.  

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut. As of Wednesday, there were 106 people being investigated by public health for symptoms. A total of 1,122 people have been investigated by public health for symptoms. 

A travel advisory against non-essential travel in Nunavut is lifted too, but the government continues to support airlines that serve the territory while travel restrictions to the South stay in place. It has yet provided an update on how that payment plan will move forward, since a previous plan expired a month ago. 

"We want to make sure that the airlines are sustained but these are also public dollars," Health Minister George Hickes said. 

Hickes cautioned anyone who is planning on leaving the territory to look at the restrictions in the jurisdiction they're heading to. 

For residents going through two-week hotel quarantines, there is a new email that can be used to report concerns or ask questions. The email is: isolationrelations@gov.nu.ca. 

One time top up to senior benefits

Thursday's update also included supports for elders. 

Minister Hickes announced that the Iqaluit beer and wine stores will be open on Mondays starting June 8 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., for elders only. This is to help with physical distancing, he said. 

The new time is to allow shorter line ups for elders who have lower mobility. But the government did take into account that it could lead to people pushing elders to purchase alcohol on someone else's behalf, since the beer and wine stores is not usually open on Mondays.

"We see too many examples of elder abuse," Hickes said. "Have some respect, don't influence someone to go to the beer and wine store ... That is still considered bootlegging." 

Nunavut's Minister of Family Services Elisapee Sheutiapik announced a funding subsidy for elders. 

Seniors who receive an old age pension will receive an additional $300. Seniors who receive a guaranteed income supplement will receive an additional $200. 

It's a one time top up and will be automatically applied.

Missed the government update? Watch it here:

The conference will air in full at 4 p.m. ET on the CBC radio show Tusaajaksat.

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