Essential workers entering Nunavut now required to wear masks outside dwellings
Government tightens COVID-19 rules in reaction to second wave in southern Canada
Essential workers entering Nunavut who have skipped stays at isolation hubs now have to wear a mask outside their dwelling for the first two weeks they’re in the territory, starting on Oct. 5.
Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, announced this on Friday, Oct. 2.
“The risk is rising as the numbers again increase in the south,” he said, explaining why this measure is being implemented now.
Patterson also said some people are confused about when they should wear masks, and some “don’t want to follow orders and look for loopholes, so we’re making [the rules] as clear as we can.”
People who are in Nunavut who were exempt from isolation have been expected to stay in their dwelling when they’re not at work and to practise physical distancing. They must now also wear a mask outside their dwelling for the first 14 days.
To be exempt from a 14-day stay at an isolation hub, they sign an agreement saying they’ll follow these orders.
Enforcement against those who break the orders is “complaint driven,” Patterson said.
“On at least two occasions we’ve had RCMP visit people to deliver warnings, and we’re working on enhancing the enforcement process.”
Premier Joe Savikataaq said on Friday that COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon.
“It is clear that we are into the second wave,” he said. “We all need to make sacrifices to keep each other safe.”
That means continuing with the public health measures of washing hands frequently, maintaining a physical distance, following limits on gathering sizes, and self-isolating and wearing a mask when it’s required.
Meanwhile, a pilot project to increase the turnaround time of test results in Nunavut has been “very successful,” Patterson said.
That involved using a chartered plane to fly test swabs from around the Qikiqtani region to the hospital in Iqaluit to test them. Test results were known in less than 72 hours, Patterson said.
Since the project was successful, the Government of Nunavut will continue to use that system in the Qikiqtani, and will also have a plane on standby in Rankin Inlet so tests can be flown in from the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions and tested in Rankin Inlet for rapid results.