Travel bubble between Nunavut, Nunavik opens today

Travellers who’ve been in Nunavut or Nunavik for at least two weeks can now travel freely between the two areas. That includes those who still haven't been vaccinated.

Starting Thursday, visitors can travel freely between both areas, including those not vaccinated

An inuksuk stands in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik. A travel bubble between Nunavik and Nunavut opened Thursday. (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

Travellers who've been in Nunavut or Nunavik for at least two weeks can travel freely between the two areas as of Thursday, according to separate news releases from the Nunavut government and the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. 

That means visitors no longer have to self-isolate upon arrival or return. Children and those who haven't yet been vaccinated are allowed to take advantage of the bubble. 

Visitors to Nunavik are required to get screened on day seven of their visit (learn more about how to do that here). Nunavut does not test for COVID-19 for the purpose of traveling. 

Travellers to Nunavik or Nunavut from other parts of Canada are still required to self-isolate either in or before arriving at both jurisdictions. 

According to the Nunavik health board, the bubble applies only to those who travel by charter flight or by boat. 

Family ties trump low vaccination rate

The decision to create the bubble was made "based on family ties between Nunavik and Nunavut, the low rate of COVID-19 cases in both regions, the end of the outbreak in Iqaluit, and the similarities of travel restrictions for travellers coming from elsewhere," according to the Nunavik health board. 

However, the loosening of restrictions came with a stark warning: "Nunavimmiut are largely unprotected from COVID-19 because of a low vaccination rate.

"Extremely contagious variants are on the rise in many countries and in certain regions of Canada," the release reads. 

Nunavik will announce its vaccine coverage up to July 10 on Aug. 2, the health board said. It also plans more community walk-in vaccine clinics, and said the Red Cross will assist with vaccines in communities with low vaccination rates, especially among those over 55 years old, starting Aug. 16. 

"This effort is to limit the impact of the Delta variant and a potential fourth wave," the release states. 

Travellers on both sides of the bubble must first receive authorization to visit. Find more details on that here

Face masks remain mandatory in indoor public places in Nunavik. 

Nunavut will drop its mask requirements just after midnight on Friday, though masks are still recommended. Other easing of restrictions in Nunavut were announced earlier this week.