North

N.W.T. extends its state of emergency and public health emergency

Premier Caroline Cochrane has extended a territory-wide state of emergency, with her powers as the new minister of the Municipal and Community Affairs Department. Health Minister Diane Thom did the same for the public health emergency.

The territory has extended both until April 28

N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane has extended a territory-wide state of emergency, using her powers as the new minister of the Municipal and Community Affairs Department. The public health emergency has also been extended. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane has extended a territory-wide state of emergency on Wednesday, using her powers as the new minister of the Municipal and Community Affairs Department.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Diane Thom has done the same for what falls under her powers — the territory's public health emergency.

Both acts are now in effect until April 28, and were extended due to the "continued need for response" to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a government news release sent Wednesday. 

The public health emergency was extended on the recommendation of the territory's chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, states the news release.

The state of emergency was first declared on March 24 and announced on March 27. It was extended before it was set to expire on April 7.

The declaration keeps in place the powers of the Emergency Management Organization, a group of regional Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) deputies who co-ordinate the government's response and communication with local authorities.

Those powers build on those granted in the public health emergency, declared March 18 and extended on April 1. They include the power to enter premises without a warrant; procure food, fuel, and medical supplies; and fix prices on essential goods.

Last week, Cochrane shuffled her cabinet to take over Municipal and Community Affairs, a portfolio previously held by Paulie Chinna. She said at the time, the move would allow her to better manage the territory's response to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Kandola told CBC News that people should expect strict restrictions to continue indefinitely, and they won't ease up until COVID-19's spread across Canada lessens.

It's been almost two weeks since the fifth case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Northwest Territories. Two cases have recovered, according to health officials. 

As of Wednesday morning, the territory has done 1,464 tests and 47 tests are pending results.

"Keeping ahead of the spread is the best way to stay as close to this trajectory possible, and is one way to limit the time strict measures are required for N.W.T. residents," the Wednesday news release states.

Before the long weekend, Kandola put a ban on indoor gatherings starting Saturday, and limited gatherings outside to fewer than 10 people with strict physical distancing protocol of at least two metres the entire time.

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