Government of Nunavut imposes new COVID-19 restrictions across the Kivalliq, Iqaluit
New measures implemented “out of an abundance of caution”
Following the confirmation of a case of COVID-19 in Rankin Inlet, the Government of Nunavut has announced new restrictions for communities across the Kivalliq and Iqaluit.
So far, the number of contacts identified through tracing in Rankin Inlet is too few to report, said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, during a news conference on Thursday morning, Nov. 12.
Despite this, the decision to implement the new restrictions was made “out of an abundance of caution,” said Patterson, because of Rankin Inlet’s position as a travel and business hub.
The new measures include the following:
- All food service establishments and licensed premises may remain open, but seating capacity has been reduced back down to 50 per cent, a measure that was eased in October.
Tables at food service establishments are limited to six people at a time, with two metres of separation between tables. Individuals in line waiting for counter service are also required to be spaced two metres apart.
- Elders homes, group homes, boarding homes and other health facilities are restricted to one visitor at a time, with the visitor wearing a mask.
- All health services will continue to operate as normal with staff wearing masks while seeing patients.
- Cabs are limited to one fare at a time with masks being recommended.
- All organized public gatherings will be restricted to 50 people for outdoor events and five people for private dwellings, which is in addition to those living together at the residence.
- Gatherings or meetings at other facilities, such as places of worship, are also limited to 50 people or 50 per cent of the rated capacity of the space.
- Government of Nunavut offices are to remain open.
- Non-essential travel is not recommended and anyone travelling to or from Rankin Inlet should self-monitor for symptoms and contact a health centre or COVID-19 hotline if they begin to experience flu-like symptoms.
- Despite the temporary closure of schools in Iqaluit, Arviat, Baker Lake and other communities today, schools outside Rankin Inlet and Sanikiluaq are advised to remain open and to follow the Department of Education’s opening plan.
According to a Department of Health news release, failing to comply with these orders could result in $575 fines for individuals and $2,875 fines for corporations.
Patterson said that once the presence of COVID-19 is isolated and contained in Rankin Inlet and Sanikiluaq, the Department of Health will revisit the new measures.
The communities of Sanikiluaq and Rankin Inlet will continue to have their specific orders from the Department of Health.
During the news conference, Patterson declined to provide information regarding the infected individual and the origin of the case—information often shared in other jurisdictions around the country.
“In some of the cases we may not be certain how important the travel history is and … there’s a lot of concern and rumours being spread about exempted travellers versus other travellers and we don’t want to get involved in that,” said Patterson.
“The important part is that we do the work needed to break transmission and that’s what we’re concentrating on right now.”
But Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said at the news conference that the positive cases do not involve exempted or critical workers.
“Anyone who implies or says otherwise is wrong,” he said.
“This kind of blame serves no purpose. It definitely doesn’t help people with COVID or our communities. Please stop spreading misinformation and rumours and needlessly attacking people. Your energy is better used trying to maintain public health measures and staying up to date with the facts.”
Nunavut’s Health Department urges anyone who thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19 to call the hotline at 1-888-975-8601 or notify their community health centre and to immediately isolate themselves at home for 14 days.
For more information on public health orders, visit the Department of Health’s COVID-19 website.