GN announces schedule to lift COVID-19 restrictions

Goal is to end public health emergency on April 11

Nunavut’s chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson (left), Health Minister John Main (centre) and Premier P.J. Akeeagok (right) give an update on Wednesday about COVID-19 restrictions easing across Nunavut in the coming weeks. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Government of Nunavut announced a plan on Wednesday to lift COVID-19 restrictions across the territory, starting next week.

Restrictions will ease in phases starting March 14 and the territorial public health emergency is scheduled to end on April 11, Nunavut’s chief public officer, Dr. Michael Patterson announced on Wednesday, speaking to reporters at the legislative assembly.

The end result will mean masks won’t be mandatory and people who have COVID-19 symptoms will not need to isolate.

“After two years of dealing with this pandemic, it’s time to begin easing public health restrictions,” Patterson said.

The plan is dependent on how COVID-19 outbreaks in communities progress during the rest of March and the beginning of April, as restrictions ease every two weeks.

But Patterson said that even if some communities are experiencing worse outbreaks than others, the Nunavut government could use local states of emergency to carry on public health restrictions, rather than a territory-wide one.

The government will stop announcing when a community gets a new case and active case counts will be updated once a week. This is because as restrictions ease, the government will start treating COVID-19 like other infectious diseases, which are not publicly tracked.

While there is a federal mandate on testing and travel, the isolation hubs in the south will remain in place for medical travellers who contract COVID-19 while outside the territory.

The decision to start loosening restrictions is based on a number of factors, Patterson said. With vaccination available to residents aged five and older, 87 per cent of Nunavut’s population have now had the chance to get their shots. Treatment and testing are now also available in all communities.

On March 14, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Igloolik and Kugaaruk will be allowed to have outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and indoor gatherings of 10 people plus household members.

Restaurants can open to 25 per cent capacity or 25 people, whichever is less, with no singing. Places of worship can open to 50 people, or 25 per cent capacity, also with no singing allowed.

In all other communities, indoor gatherings can increase to 15 people plus household members, outdoor gatherings can increase to 100 people and public indoor gatherings can increase to 50 people or 50 per cent capacity.

Restaurants and places of worship can open to 50 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less, with singing and dancing allowed.

On March 28, the government is planning to loosen the rules further: high-risk contacts who do not have COVID-19 symptoms will no longer have to isolate.

“These changes do not mean that COVID-19 is gone. COVID-19 is almost certainly here to stay,” Patterson said, adding that Nunavummiut should still wear masks to reduce transmission, even if it’s not mandated.

Premier P.J. Akeeagok thanked Patterson and front-line health workers for keeping the territory safe since the beginning of the pandemic.

“In the past two years, Dr. Patterson has been at the helm day and night, during the holidays as well as the weekends to help protect Nunavummiut against COVID-19,” Akeeagok said in response to the announcement.

“[Patterson] and his whole team are the reason why Nunavut is COVID-free for so long.”

Health Minister John Main said Nunavumiut are feeling “COVID fatigue” but need to keep isolating, self-testing, getting vaccinated and wearing masks.

“Even without the public health measures, we should all continue to do what’s necessary to protect our communities,” Main said.

As of Wednesday, the territory has 472 active cases of COVID-19. There have been one death and 33 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 since Dec. 21, 2021.

Communities with the highest active case counts include Iqaluit with 111 cases, Kugaaruk with 56, Gjoa Haven and Rankin Inlet with 44, Naujaat with 37, and Pond Inlet with 31.

– With files from Mélanie Ritchot

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by Working from home (LOL) on

    Oh man, does this mean I have to go back to work? How am I going to get up in the morning? What a drag

    • Posted by Northerner on

      I was loving this covid holiday, sitting at home , doing nothing and getting paid. Oh well, back to reality.

    • Posted by jon on

      If i were you, i wouldn’t be complaining. there are many people out there who are desperate for a job, even people with grade 12 and yet no job. jobs are not that easy to get so i would be more than happy to go back to work and earn money by working.

      • Posted by Oh! on

        jon, i know some people would call your comment aggrandizing and sanctimonious, or maybe pious moralizing, not me though. You are clearly an awesome person.

        • Posted by Oh? on

          Oh LIS, You and your big words 😀

          • Posted by Lead pencil on

            Oh dear, it’s not the size of your words, it’s how you use them 😉

  2. Posted by No more masks on


    • Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

      FREDOME AT LAST!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Posted by about time on

    FINALLY…. stupid rules carrying on and on. I’m vaccinated, haven’t had Covid yet (that I know of anyway lol) and am expecting 100% to get it…. Can I live life know this… YES… Will I curl up in bed when sick and sleep and watch TV…. YES, lets get this stupid thing done and over with. I’ll take 4-8 days of being sick over being locked up indefinitely.
    Those vulnerable can continue to stay home, wear masks, and the rest of us can continue on with our lives. In my opinion and many others this can’t come soon enough.
    I can’t wait to go dancing next week at the local bar… 🙂

  4. Posted by Seriously on

    So the real restriction lifting will come after the first weekend of Toonik Tyme. Should change it so we can have a good festival…finally.

    • Posted by Splawsh on

      The last pre-covid Toonik Tyme was almost non-existent. No one showed up to host half of the scheduled events, and when there is one 20 minute event a day spread out over several days it doesn’t feel like much of a festival.
      That said, I don’t have any intention of volunteering to fix the problem, so this is a grumpy old man complaint. Just saying, don’t get your hopes up for Toonik Tyme. Covid didn’t kill it. It was almost dead before covid.

  5. Posted by In This Corner on

    The talking is failing. There is no emergency. Buying into this is fear and nothing else. Governments don’t want to give up the control, hence a restriction lifting schedule. When did people get on telling others what to do with their bodies. Pfister and the others, including JT are criminals! R. Brand has a lot to say for anyone curious to listen.
    Government officials making restrictions law, penalty under law, and go to Florida for the freedoms and treatments. Acceptance here is compliance and nothing more. World Freedom and Peace To All, Beautiful Butterflies

  6. Posted by Jon Doe on

    Take away the vaccine passport for the gym & city facilites , this doesnt make sense.

    • Posted by MARS on

      The fact that there are so many downvotes to your comment really makes me shake my head. It shows that the liberal rhetoric (not based on science) around vaccines is working.

  7. Posted by NOvid on

    Thanks for ruining and dictating several years of people’s lives without an infectious disease confirmed. As the disease seems to be rampant and coincidentally when it became absurd that GN workers are the only ones not working in offices, guess what no restrictions. I’m expecting an outbreak but falsely reporting numbers or failing to update will probably diminish that. A man is not a island, but a household can count as a GN-issued “case.”

  8. Posted by Band-Aid off. on

    If we’re ripping the COVID band-aid off lets rip it fully off. Open up the communities even if they have cases.

    Be real interesting to see what the parents excuse is for not sending their kids to school when restrictions lift but attendance at school doesn’t rise.

  9. Posted by S on

    Nothwithstanding the covid non-science (or nonsense as scientists like to call it), what level of gomeness puts this story on the last page.?


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