COVID-19 restrictions to ease over the coming weeks, Nunavut premier says
‘Today, we need a new approach,’ Premier P.J. Akeeagok says
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.