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Nunavut officials don't need to isolate after government travel: top doctor

Nunavut's members of the Legislative Assembly, the territory's member of Parliament and its senator can now be exempt from the territory's public health order to isolate before travelling to Nunavut, according to Dr. Michael Patterson. 

Officials getting quarantine exemption need approval from chief public health officer

Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, speaks at a news conference on COVID-19. In Tuesday's press conference, Patterson said government officials don't have to self-isolate in southern hotels if they are on business travel. (Beth Brown/CBC )

Nunavut's members of the Legislative Assembly, the territory's member of Parliament and its senator can now be exempt from the territory's public health order to self-isolate before travelling to Nunavut, according to the chief public health officer.

In Tuesday's press conference Dr. Michael Patterson said these officials will be required to submit a written request to be approved by his office to get the exemption. 

It only applies to necessary travel related to Parliamentary, Legislative Assembly, and constituency business — not to personal travel. It does not apply to government staff or elected officials' families. 

The change in the travel restrictions is to allow the Nunavut government to conduct government business, Patterson said. 

If they choose, officials can still isolate in the hotel quarantine for 14 days in one of the territory's southern hubs.

Upon returning from official business, Nunavut representatives will be required to follow the protocols for all critical workers for 14 days. That means they will have to self-isolate when not at work, maintain physical distance at work, and should wear a mask when separation cannot be maintained, Patterson said. 

What's the latest?

Government offices will reopen to the public on Monday, according to Premier Joe Savikataaq. 

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut. As of July 29, the government website states that public health is monitoring 236 people for symptoms. In total, 1,751 people have been investigated. 

The last public health emergency order was extended until Aug. 6.

The premier's office said this will be the last weekly news conference on COVID-19 this month. A statement said it will schedule news conferences if and when they're needed over the next few weeks.

At the last news conference the government announced it had opened a second isolation centre in Winnipeg.

Subsequently, some Nunavummiut spoke out about the need for change at the government-approved isolation centres in the Manitoba capital, saying rules are inconsistent, there have been incidents with disruptive guests, and a lack of communication.

Nunavut education authorities also went public last week with their concerns over school reopening plans in the territory — particularly around the cost and implementation of new cleaning guidelines, and physical distancing requirements.

Three presumptive cases announced in July at the Mary River Mine near Pond Inlet were all confirmed negative by an Ontario lab.

Tuesday's news conference will also play on local cable, on channel 233, and will air at 4 p.m. ET on the CBC Radio show Tusaajaksat.

Missed the press conference? Watch it here:

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