GN ‘confident’ Nunavut can handle COVID-19 without most restrictions

Public health officer says he understands some won’t be comfortable with decision

Chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said Thursday the government is confident that it can handle COVID-19 without the public health emergency in place. (File photo)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

COVID-19 is manageable now without masks and restrictions, despite some people’s concerns Nunavut’s public health emergency measures might be ending too soon, says chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson.

“I understand that some will be worried about these changes, but we are confident that we are in a place where we can start living normally again,” he said in a COVID-19 virtual press conference Thursday.

Patterson also said the territory will soon announce details on how people can get a second booster shot.

The Health Department confirmed Wednesday the territory’s public health emergency will be lifted April 11, after originally announcing that date in early March. It had been in place since March 18, 2020.

That means most – but not all — restrictions, including the mask mandate and gathering size limits, will be lifted.

Masks will still be required in health clinics, Patterson said, adding businesses can decide for themselves if they want to enforce capacity restrictions or require customers to be masked.

The Education Department is keeping a policy to require masks in schools and on school buses, according to Education Minister Pamela Gross.

The Department of Human Resources is also keeping masks in place for GN employees while they are in common areas. But they won’t have to do a daily COVID-19 self-assessment or sign in and out of their office, Human Resources Minister Margaret Nakashuk said.

Health Minister John Main said he understands some people are concerned about restrictions being lifted, and said he is also worried.

“I’m still concerned about COVID-19 in terms of my own family and my own contacts, my own workplace, and I plan on continuing to take precautions,” he said.

Ultimately, Nunavut residents have the resources and tools necessary to live with COVID-19, he said.

Both Main and Patterson have recommended on multiple occasions residents should continue to wear masks, avoid gatherings if they feel sick, and get vaccinated.

Currently, 83 per cent of Nunavut residents aged 5 and up have received at least two vaccine doses and 50 per cent aged 12 and up have their booster shots, according to the Health Department.

“As restrictions come to an end, it will still be important to remain careful and cautious in the months ahead,” Main said, adding people who choose to keep wearing masks shouldn’t be shamed for that decision.

Nunavut is joining several other provinces and territories by lifting the mask mandate and loosening restrictions.

Manitoba lifted its mask mandate in most indoor places March 15, N.W.T. on April 1 and Ontario on March 21.

Ontario is likely experiencing approximately 100,000 new cases per day, experts say, as well as rising hospitalizations, and is in its sixth wave of COVID-19.

Nunavut’s Health Department is monitoring the fallout of provinces that have lifted restrictions, which is partly why masks will still be mandatory at schools and in government workplaces, Patterson said.

His department will also look at health centre capacities and the frequency of medevacs in the territory to determine how the disease is affecting residents.

If necessary, the government can issue local states of emergency in communities experiencing an outbreak, rather than imposing territory-wide measures, Patterson said.

Meanwhile, Gross confirmed schools are expected to get ventilation system upgrades through funding from the federal government.

Clarification: This story has been updated to specify that the Department of Education and Department of Human Resources policies are not related to the public health order. 

Share This Story

(46) Comments:

  1. Posted by wondering on

    Huh? Government’s are not confident in anything! they are just bullies.. Who dont have a clue of what’s going on around them…..all just a guessing game for them..

    18
    30
  2. Posted by Umingmak on

    Making kids wear masks in school is disgraceful. Stop this nonsense. No masks for kids!

    42
    45
    • Posted by Children First on

      I agree. Masking children is useless. We saw it. Many eclosions in schools despite the masks.

      27
      21
  3. Posted by 867 on

    Let’s be honest, even with restrictions, nobody followed them, nobody enforced them. Nothing has actually changed.

    31
    18
    • Posted by Mother on

      Say that to the young children in school. Poor them. They listen to adults and will continue wearing their masks.

      24
      12
      • Posted by drago on

        Yeah! Kids shouldn’t have to follow rules or have to show consideration for their neighbors!

        4
        7
  4. Posted by Newnavut on

    This is good news but I wonder what all the people working for the GN who were so willing to accept the “new normal” think about having to tough out another quarter or two or three. Que the pep talk rallies because it’s time to get back to life.

    It’s our time to shine.

    Over and out.

    15
    11
    • Posted by John K on

      It doesn’t bother me at all. I would be embarrassed if it did.

      6
      12
    • Posted by Brucie the Friendly Northern Store Panhandler on

      “Tough it out”?

      You mean wear a paper mask only in common areas so they don’t spread the virus to vulnerable co-workers? What an ordeal they will endure!

      6
      3
  5. Posted by Nightmare on

    Why wear mask when there’s no emergency in effect

    35
    17
  6. Posted by Mother on

    Another slap in the face of our children. Come on. Keeping masks in schools is beyond ridiculous at this point.

    37
    21
  7. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Ontario dropped its mask mandates and almost all restrictions about a week ago and it is already seeing a significant spike in Covid cases and hospitalizations. This may be too much too soon. I am happy that they decided to keep the masks in schools as right now some schools in Ontario are reporting 80% absentee rates.

    28
    27
    • Posted by Oh captain my captain on

      Masking children is useless. A child can’t wear his mask properly. They drop it on the floor and put it back. They keep playing with it and readjust it without washing their hands. They go outside and it gets all wet…
      Masking children is a nasty political move.
      Leave our children alone.
      Let them be kids.

      28
      21
      • Posted by whisp on

        You replied to a comment while totally ignoring the comment itself.

        The commenter’s point is, the numbers in Ontario tell a different story. You just don’t like it.

        6
        4
  8. Posted by Children First on

    If you have a comorbid health condition and you’re still worried about Covid, wear a mask.

    If you’re sick, wear a mask.

    If you’re visiting an elder, wear a mask.

    Going to the health center? Wear a mask.

    But how dare you ask our children to mask up for you?

    Children should not protect the adults. Adults should protect the children.

    Let the children thrive. Let the children be. Let the children play.

    Cancel the mask mandate in schools ✊

    32
    23
    • Posted by Chinchim on

      Yes!!! Let the children be free! No rules! Never say no to them! No masks! No seatbelts! No helmets! Teach them “me, me me me me!!!!!”

      8
      6
      • Posted by Children First on

        That’s the difference between you and I.

        If I see you masked at the Northern, I’m gonna think: “This poor fella must be at risk. Or they must live with elderly parents. Or an immunosuppressed child. Or they’ve got a very important job and can’t afford to be on the bench for 5 days.”
        I’m gonna respect your choice and heck, I will mask up around you and maybe even help you with your bags.

        Now tell me, what will you think if you see me unmasked at the northern?

        IMO that is the problem nowadays.

        3
        5
        • Posted by Dri on

          Your comment makes absolutely no sense and has nothing to do with the comment you are replying to about children wearing masks.

          Children are not being oppressed by wearing masks for a little longer. They are able to thrive. Perhaps it’s the adults who are less resilient.

          6
          3
        • Posted by John K on

          I can’t imagine I would think about you at all.

          It’s weird that you would think about me at the grocery store.

  9. Posted by Parents on

    All you parents who are crying right now, don’t come back when your child, you and others in you home have Covid. It could be mild, just like a flu, it could be severe. At least make sure that you and all eligible in your family have the shots…..for your poor children sake FFS

    14
    17
    • Posted by Mother on

      No worries. We won’t be crying. We all got Covid already.
      In school.
      In February.
      Despite your beloved masks.

      21
      9
      • Posted by John K on

        The way you people talk about masks is embarrassing.

        So delicate that you have utterly politicized a piece of cloth.

        Softies.

        16
        11
        • Posted by Pandemonic Prophet on

          Which side of the debate are you criticizing?

          One thing that should be raised more often is that the only masks that have been shown to work are properly-fitted N95 masks. Cloth masks and surgical masks have negligible effect on transmission (and don’t try citing one of those thorough debunked CDC studies).

          Cloth or surgical masks are more like superstitious amulets – or from some past pandemic – a pocketful of posies, so to speak.

          So, unless you are mandating properly fitted N95 masks, you are not following the science. You might as well mandate pocketsful of posies, rosaries or other magical talismans of choice.

          13
          8
          • Posted by Brucie the Friendly Northern Store Panhandler on

            When you say studies on the effectiveness of masks are “debunked” are we talking debunked on antivax Facebook or by a more credible source like antivax Youtube?

            5
            6
            • Posted by Children First on

              Once upon a time in February, Covid was rampant in schools.
              Children wore masks in February
              Masks are not working with children.
              The end.

              4
              5
              • Posted by Oolah on

                The numbers in Ontario seem to indicate maybe they were working for children.

                4
                3
  10. Posted by S on

    If the heavy handed restrictions that include masking continue after Monday, I sense a lot of employees will boycott the workplace; I will, and I will boycott any business that requires a mask to enter.

    23
    16
    • Posted by Observer on

      Most businesses also require clothing to enter. Are you going to boycott them for infringing on your right to be naked?

      And I take it you don’t work in any trade where you have to wear a helmet and safety boots at work.

      10
      14
    • Posted by Nallin on

      Good grief. Such a tantrum over a simple piece of cloth that someone is asking you to wear in hopes of keeping someone else from getting ill. I hope you are never actually oppressed. You will crumble to pieces.

      8
      5
    • Posted by slimp on

      Cool. Better to boycott the business altogether than bully the poor workers, which is what so many brave anti-maskers have been doing for the last two years.

      6
      4
      • Posted by I’m vaccinated on

        Wear your beloved masks, I couldn’t care less. But don’t transpose your fear on me. I’m vaxxed and I believe in science.

        6
        6
        • Posted by Slimp on

          Super! The conversation is about masks, but that’s great! I believe in science too! So I know that wearing a mask for a little longer won’t do any harm to me or others and is therefore a minor inconvenience. And I’m rational, not fearful, so I don’t sweat it when my workplace or a business (especially a small business) asks me to mask up. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I care about my neighbors as much as I can, so even if there’s only a small chance that wearing a mask will keep others safe, I’ll be inconvenienced a little longer if it helps or even just makes them feel better. But hey, you do you and boycott or whatever. As long as you aren’t harassing cashiers and receptionists, it’s your perogative.

          6
          5
  11. Posted by Karen Konvoy on

    The Karen Association of MOTHERS sure caught wind of this news and bombarded the comment section.

    Kids don’t seem to mind the masks as much as the mothers do. It’s not the kids we should be worried about it’s their strung out moms.

    17
    12
    • Posted by Pussy convoy on

      Why are you so scared?
      You should be ashamed. Children shouldn’t protect you.

      13
      11
  12. Posted by Nadia on

    Now we can see that all these restrictions were arbitrary and without any real basis in science. From the start it has just been a guessing-game on the part of all the public health officers, including our own “good doctor”. It was sheer luck that Nunavut has escaped the worst of the pandemic and nothing to do with vaccines, social distancing and masks. Time to end this farce.

    18
    15
    • Posted by John K on

      She says as we approach the end of the pandemic BECAUSE of these “useless” restrictions.

      Cause. And. Effect

      12
      12
  13. Posted by John K on

    The GN can’t even handle the very basics of public governance …

    Has everyone got their transcripts? Has the leaky privacy issue been dealt with? I see the dump caught on fire again … wouldn’t a recycling program be great? Are your Ministers answer questions yet? Are they still hiring family members as subordinates?

    Oh ya; we got this.

    I do not share a shred of Dr. Patterson’s confidence.

    14
    5
  14. Posted by nothing changed? on

    so nothing really changed? except no limit on gathering which is conveniently after the toonik tyme festival. no one is going to really be bothered. as for private businesses, considering they are usually the target of grief on social media, I’d say they will keep their mask mandate as well. masking in schools should end!

    14
    5
  15. Posted by Japanese Postcard on

    How can the use of masks be required when Order #26 is rescinded?

    14
    4
  16. Posted by Lawrence on

    If there lifting most mandates they should also lift the mandate for the gym/pool facility!!! EVERYONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO USE IT ,THIS IS PART OF MENTAL/PHYSICAL HEALTH.

    13
    5
  17. Posted by S on

    If GN, the government and the employer, believes it can arbitrarily impose a health hazard (wearing a mask is a health hazard), then it must be doing so because the NEU is complicit with that policy. A material change in working conditions, and in this case one that introduces a hazard to the workplace, should have been contested by NEU.

    NEU executive: fix this before Monday morning or resign

    8
    8
    • Posted by Snowl on

      How is wearing masks a health hazard? I have never heard that before.

      9
      5
      • Posted by Jacks on

        Poor surgeons and dentists! They must be sick all the time! Stupid masks.

        Good grief.

        6
        4
    • Posted by Slimp on

      Please explain your statement about how wearing a mask is a health hazard. I disagree with you, but I genuinely want to know how you will explain this. Like you, I believe in science. I actually want to understand your statement so I can empathasize more effectiveky and not just dismiss your feelings. Thank you .

      4
      1

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*