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Nunavut public health emergency extended to June 25

A public health emergency is extended in Nunavut until June 25. The Nunavut government gave the announcement during a public update on Thursday regarding its response to COVID-19.

Chief public health officer said allowing travel between Nunavut and N.W.T. is still undecided

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut's chief public health officer, says travel between Nunavut and N.W.T. is still undecided. (CBC)

A public health emergency is extended in Nunavut until June 25, Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq announced during a Thursday news conference on government response to COVID-19.

Government officials and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson gave that update at 11 a.m. ET. 

Patterson said allowing travel between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is still undecided, now that N.W.T. is changing its travel restrictions.  

"We're still interested in it but we want to understand how this will impact potential risks before we make a firm decision one way or another," Patterson said.  

The Northwest Territories is rolling back some travel restrictions, which previously restricted travel into the territory to only residents and essential workers, saying it may have infringed on charter rights.

Asked if Nunavut's restrictions infringe on mobility rights under the Canadian charter, Patterson said, "the opinion of our lawyers is that [the restrictions] meet that threshold under the emergency declaration." 

The emergency declaration allows the government to make necessary restrictions to delay COVID-19 from spreading into the territory or keep it out altogether.  

Patterson said Nunavut's "more stringent measures" reflect the greater impact the spread of COVID-19 would have on communities.

'There will be no double standards'

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut. As of June 11, there are 128 people being investigated by public health for symptoms. In total, 1197 have been investigated. 

While recreation centres like gyms and pools are allowed to open starting next week, the City of Iqaluit says it won't be opening the Aquatic Centre right away. Dates for a limited opening will be announced on or around June 26.

Savikataaq reminded residents that hotel isolation hubs are taken seriously by the government and asked for the rules to be followed. 

"There will be no double standards," Savikataaq said. 

Finance Minister George Hickes announced on Monday new funding for Nunavut airlines, bringing those payments to more than $24 million by the end of June. More funding will need to be negotiated in a few weeks.  

"We know that COVID-19 is not going to be ending at the end of this month," Hickes said. 

The government is still recommending against non-essential travel, but as travel does open up and airline seats are being purchased, the government will have to re-evaluate what the airlines need to stay operational, Hickes said.

The conference will play on local cable, on channel 233 and will air at 4 p.m. ET on the CBC radio show Tusaajaksat.

Missed the update from Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer? Watch it here: 

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that N.W.T. is changing its restrictions for residents travelling outside the territory. In fact, it has changed its policy on who can enter the territory.
    Jun 11, 2020 11:47 AM CT

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