COVID-19 restrictions to ease over the coming weeks, Nunavut premier says

‘Today, we need a new approach,’ Premier P.J. Akeeagok says

Premier P.J. Akeeagok said the territory needs a new strategy for handling public health measures during the pandemic, adding that the territory will begin easing restrictions. (File photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavut will begin seeing public health restrictions ease over the “next few weeks and months,” said Premier P.J. Akeeagok, following the lead taken recently by other provinces and territories in Canada.

Akeeagok made the remarks during his weekly COVID-19 press conference after he announced there are 310 cases as of Tuesday.

“Since 2020, our strategy in dealing with the pandemic has been to keep our territory COVID-free,” Akeeagok said. “Today, we need a new approach.”

Akeeagok said the government has learned more about how COVID-19 spreads, mutates and how to manage the impact on communities.

The territory’s specific needs will be included in the plans to open Nunavut up, he said.

Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said there will be gradual changes every few weeks, starting with changing isolation requirements, until the territory begins managing COVID-19 like other infections, such as influenza.

“We’ll be looking at ways of stepping away from mandatory isolation for those who’ve been exposed,” he said, adding the territory also wants to move away from limiting the size of gatherings.

In the meantime, Patterson said public health restrictions will be easing in 10 more communities starting Feb. 28, a week after 13 other communities saw their restrictions eased.

Restaurants can open with 25 per cent capacity in Arctic Bay, Pangnirtung, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Coral Harbour, Sanikiluaq, Cambridge Bay, Kugaaruk, Resolute Bay and Pond Inlet.

As well, indoor team sports will be allowed, 50 people may attend outdoor gatherings, 25 people or 50 per cent capacity will be the limit for public indoor gatherings and 10 people for household gatherings, including residents of that home, Patterson said.

Gyms can increase their capacity to 50 per cent or 25 people, whichever is less, as can libraries, museums and galleries. Arenas can open to 50 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less, and places of worship can increase their capacity to 50 people or 25 per cent, whichever is less.

Elders homes can have two visitors per resident from their immediate family, he said.

There are no changes in Igloolik or Taloyoak, he said.

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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by No more Masks on

    Would be nice to see no more masks like the rest of Canada is doing too

    • Posted by misinformed on

      You are misinformed about the mask regulations in Canada, read the news. Don’t generalize

    • Posted by Jason on

      I am not sending my child to school. Even if my community case count is at zero. I will wait 28 days until nunavut has zero cases before sending him off to school.

  2. Posted by SigmaTauUpsilon Variant on

    Overall, I do currently support this. Considering the severity of illness from this variant of the virus, I think we do need to learn to live with it, perhaps even take advantage of it.
    I do worry about the capacity (or lack thereof) of our health system, as this article came out right around the same time that a Public Service Announcement came out that the Igloolik Health Centre is now closed due to staff exposure to Covid.
    One thing that is often not discussed is the likelihood (large or small) that this virus may mutate again to a variant that is in fact much more deadly/serious. The hospitalization risk of Omicron is only about a third of that of Delta, what if a new variant comes along with hospitalization risk three times that of Delta? Are we prepared for that?
    Most people seem to be treating Omicron as if it is the final chapter, and I sure hope it is, but let’s all remember that only 3 months ago (of this 2 year ordeal) nobody had even heard of the Omicron variant.

    • Posted by Offensively Moderate on

      Anything can happen, but looking at the other coronaviruses that are/were transmitted between humans (the common cold ones, SARS 1.0 and MERS) it’s easy to see a relationship between the total number of transmissions and reduction in severity.

      SARS 1.0 and MERS total case counts are in the thousands, common cold coronaviruses must be in the billions and counting.

      All that to say, there’s reason to mix a little optimism in with your concern.

      • Posted by We Can Hope on

        Easy for you to see a relationship, perhaps, but not so easy for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technical Lead, Maria Van Kerkhove:
        “The next variant of concern will be more fit, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating,” Van Kerkhove said. “The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe.”
        She warned against buying into theories that the virus will continue to mutate into milder strains that make people less sick than earlier variants.
        “There is no guarantee of that. We hope that that is the case, but there is no guarantee of that and we can’t bank on it,” she said, noting that people should heed public safety measures in the meantime. What’s more, the next iteration of Covid may also evade vaccine protections even more, making the existing vaccines even less effective.

        • Posted by Offensively Moderate on

          Of course there’s no guarantee (i.e. anything can happen). But only one scenario is consistent with humanity’s historical experience with coronaviruses.

          Whatever the next variant might bring, one thing that will be different will be that many many people will have immunity due to exposure to Omicron on top of all the vaccine immunity. That may well be a game changer given that natural immunity is broad (20+ antigens) as opposed to mRNA-induced immunity which is only responsive to one antigen (the spike protein).

          Note also Ms. Kerkhove’s words: “the next iteration of Covid may also evade vaccine protections even more, making the existing vaccines even less effective.” This is not surprising given that the existing vaccines are based on the 2019 Wuhan strain.

          Heed also Bill Gates’ recent pronouncement: “Omicron did ‘a better job’ building immunity than COVID-19 vaccines”.

          So, let’s deal with the prophesied deadly variant if and when it emerges rather than worrying ourselves into a state in the meantime.

          • Posted by PhiChiPsi on

            I can agree with what you’re saying about natural immunity, hence my reference to perhaps “taking advantage” of Omicron.
            I’m not proposing that we worry ourselves into anything at the moment, I’m just suggesting that we mentally prepare ourselves to understand this may not be the end. I’d also like for the government to be prepared to respond, should a worse variant arise.

  3. Posted by Melissa on

    They never mention all the daycares that have unvaccinated children and are blowing up with Covid every week. Easing restrictions is great but it will continue to spread through the day care centres.

  4. Posted by S on

    Until masks are outlawed we consider the restrictions to be extreme

    • Posted by John K on

      As long as you consider these restrictions “extreme” I know not to pay you much mind.

      Anyone else remember people with SARScoV 1 being quietly locked in hotel rooms? You definitely don’t remember how well it worked.

    • Posted by No underwear allowed either on

      You know making masks “outlawed” means that nobody is allowed to wear one, right? You think it’s extreme to require people to wear a mask in public places but don’t think it’s extreme to force people NOT to wear a mask? S, you’re a very strange person.

      • Posted by John K on

        “Mandates for thee but none for me” seems to be the idea they’re supporting.

      • Posted by S on

        No undies:

        you and others can get a religious exemption when masking is outlawed – no proof of affiliation required; we’re fully supportive of that suitable status for any of you.

  5. Posted by Anguttialook on

    2 years to get ready…yet they are Dec gone there were 2 cases in cambridge bay…yet the clueless ones shut the whole town down…then when one may be exposed to the virus…the over size clinic…aka…white elephant too…told me to go home…yes expose maybe other…very ineffective way to get things under control…a bad joke by an ineffective and inefficient system and people…typical Ala nunavut way of doing things….I got out of hooterville

  6. Posted by This is Well-timed on

    With Omicron numbers being faked so well – even this government will have to wake up from its working from home dream. But, if you open everything up before you make yourselves go back to work. Get the new variant circulating throughout the schools, it’s an easy coast to the summer working from home. Then it’s cabin time – possible legislative sitting in the fall. But, it’s okay it’s not like we need a standing government, the territory is doing tremendously well. Schools are open and NEU staff haven’t attended in years. Teachers be leaving this territory so quickly this summer that they had to introduce an extra, direct flight to Toronto


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