Iqaluit’s public health restrictions to ease this week

‘We’re in a very good position,’ says Patterson

Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, announced Monday that public health restrictions would be loosened in Iqaluit, starting Thursday. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Nunatsiaq News

Starting Thursday, public health restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Iqaluit will be relaxed, the Government of Nunavut announced Monday.

This news comes as the number of active cases in the territory dropped into single digits. There were nine cases across Nunavut on Monday, after another person in Iqaluit recovered from the disease and no new cases were reported.

Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory’s chief public health officer, said that Nunavut’s capital is seeing falling case counts of the respiratory disease and high uptake of the Moderna vaccine among adults.

“As vaccination rates climb and as people have restricted their activity, the spread is quite low,” he said, explaining which factors make it safe to ease restrictions in Iqaluit.

“We’re in a very good position,” Patterson said Monday during a media briefing at the legislative assembly.

Despite this, waiting until Thursday to ease the restrictions provides a bit of time to see if cases begin to rise again.

“We want to make sure that things are stable from the weekend,” Patterson said.

“If we see a significant increase in the number of households involved, then we have to revisit those plans.”

Public health measures are being eased gradually in case they do trigger increased transmission.

Another reason measures are eased gradually is because health teams are never certain they have caught all the active cases, Patterson said, explaining the importance of surveillance testing.

Later this week, a Department of Health van will drive to various locations and park there and do walk-up screening in areas that haven’t been screened yet.

As of Thursday, people will be able to have indoor home gatherings with five people beyond household members, while outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people will be allowed. The government continues to urge residents to keep their social circles small.

Residents at long-term care facilities, continuing care centres, boarding homes and health centres may be allowed up to two visitors from their immediate families, with masks being required during these visits.

Daycares may open, and schools may reopen with a blend of in-school and remote learning.

Businesses and government offices may also open with mask-wearing and physical distancing practices in place.

Indoor gatherings for support groups and group counselling can reopen for up to 20 people and indoor events can take place for up to 25 people or 25 per cent of the facility’s capacity, whichever is less.

Places of worship may open for in-person services, with no singing, for up to 25 people or 25 per cent capacity, whichever is less.

Arenas may allow 25 people or 25 per cent of the facility’s capacity, whichever is less. There can be no more than 25 spectators and no team sports.

Libraries and galleries may open for individual and family visits. Facilities holding fitness sessions may open for solo workouts with masks. All public playgrounds, municipal parks, and territorial parks may open, but their buildings remain closed.

Travel in and out of Iqaluit continues to be restricted, and masks remain mandatory in indoor public places and when within six feet of another person.

Personal services such as hairdressers and beauty salons, as well as theatres remain closed. Restaurants and licensed establishments remain restricted to takeout only.

“If we start to see case counts rising again, after we’ve eased measures, then we have to either stay the same or go back,” Patterson said.

Outside of Iqaluit, public health orders will remain as they are for now.

“There’s still that risk of introduction to other communities in the Baffin region,” Patterson said.

Kinngait could see measures ease as early as next week if the community continues to see no cases and nobody in isolation, Patterson said.

Broader reopening plans, as seen in other jurisdictions around the country, can probably be expected within the next week or two, adding that it depends a lot on what happens in Iqaluit over that time period.

Pfizer vaccine rollout announced

Following last week’s announcement that Nunavut is expecting to receive its first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine sometime during the week of June 7, the government has unveiled its full youth vaccination schedule.

“We want to get as many people as possible vaccinated,” Patterson said. “There is no set goal. it's just as many as possible.”

The community clinics for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 will begin on June 15 and run through July.

In Iqaluit, the first Pfizer doses for youth will be available at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.’s mass vaccination clinic from June 16 to June 19. The clinic will also administer the Moderna vaccine to adults.

Outside of Iqaluit, Pfizer vaccine appointments will be available by appointment only. Those wishing to book an appointment can call their local health centre.

For a complete list of Pfizer vaccination clinics or for more information on the vaccine, visit the Government of Nunavut’s COVID-19 vaccine website.

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(29) Comments:

  1. Posted by Alan Klie on

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but any word on exemptions from isolation for fully vaccinated individuals? Did Dr. Patterson mention anything?

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    • Posted by Time for a trip on

      Are you talking about the isolation hubs in the south? That’s just punishment for wanting to visit your family/friends this summer. Didn’t you realize when you signed up to work in Nunavut that it expected 100% loyalty?

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      • Posted by John K on

        Right? I’m surprised there’s no concertina wire going up at the airport to stop any teachers from leaving.

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        • Posted by Nuna on

          what does it mean ‘travel restrictions’? It seems people are traveling for non essential travel. Dr. P said no change to this but it does not have details. Is there a link to specifics?

    • Posted by Johnny Quarantine on

      Dr. Patterson has no science to support the continued need for isolating in a foreign city for two weeks for those fully vaccinated. NWT has never required isolation outside of territory, and had more recently lowered the home quarantine to 8 days. Now the evidence suggests. Fully vaccinated people pose no risk, so any quarantine is even questionable. Come on Dr. Patterson, stop with the infringement of Charter mobility rights already or tell us scientifically why this is going on still.

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      • Posted by Dr. Government on

        We seem to have no government and no leader when it comes to imprisoning innocent Nunavut citizens for two weeks regardless if you have taken the step to get vaccinated. Other governed territories are adopting measures to encourage more vaccinations, in the Yukon if you are vaccinated, you don’t need to isolate. We have family in the south that we have not seen for over a year and this is getting absurd.
        Can a worthy MLA step forward and lead the MLAs to push the government to change this dictatorship?

  2. Posted by Tom on

    I hope we don’t pull an Arviat as we seem to be lifting restrictions a little too early, if the numbers start to climb back up it’ll take longer to get where we want to be.
    Hopefully the GN did their due diligence.

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    • Posted by Still here on

      I agree, from everything i have read and tried to inform myself on, we are opening to early, this should be after the 12 to 16 year olds are vaccinated, also it may have been better to open offices and workplaces for the already vaccinated, but lets hope this decision is the right one.

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  3. Posted by High school parent on

    If anything this shows how unprepared the schools are. They seem to have been surprised by this, I wonder how many teachers already left town? Oops

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    • Posted by resident of Iqaluit on

      Sad that teachers seem to be society’s punching bags, even up in Nunavut. You realize that teachers have no input into the procedures in the different stages and usually find out this information as the public finds out. I doubt very much if many teachers left. Hope you resolve your personal problems and stop taking it out on teachers.

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      • Posted by Student on

        Punching bags? That’s a bit of an extreme play on words. Most of them left in 2020 long before June with the lockdown, and made sure everyone knew how upset they were to use their own time off for their isolation.

        I am a parent of a high school student, and I am considering holding them back. The lack of teacher interaction is appalling. I supposed its too harsh to expect a teacher to respond to a email once in 6 weeks, sorry I guess? There are teachers who are genuinely invested in Nunavut and it really shows. Those who interact with their students by providing grades, assessments, feedback.. you know teaching them. Versus those who made one post the entire lockdown and are unreachable. It seems unfair to judge students and grade them when only 30% of them even bother to try.

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        • Posted by John K on

          Oddly enough my friend posted, called, e mailed, e mailed again and then called and then she posted on that education site again, then e mailed before calling again. For all that effort she was all but talking to herself.

          See. I could make assumptions and judgements about local parents based entire on my unfounded anecdotal experience too, if I were so inclined. Funny that.

  4. Posted by Rankiner on

    When is the government going to declare Rankin Inlet Covid free? We haven’t had any cases for weeks, and even then it was two from Iqaluit and there was no spread. Come on, let’s get real here.

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      • Posted by Rankiner on

        Not that I am aware of. I don’t see anything saying so on the government website. Maybe you know?

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        • Posted by Amy on

          I may have misunderstood. I thought you were saying that Rankin and Iqaluit were still on the same restriction level.

  5. Posted by Nemerode on

    You have to understand that vaccination is the KEY, look at what is happening south, they are reopenning in Quebec with almost no case… just 276 for the province
    PLease get vaccinated, this is the only way

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    • Posted by Science on

      Don’t tell the antivaxers this, they will blow their lids! Common sense and facts don’t matter for these kinds, it’s more about believing in their feelings and possibly their far right religion.
      Anyway I totally agree with you, get your vaccine and we can get back to some what normal.

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      • Posted by Nemerode on

        Yes but they should be made aware that they are delaying everyone from re-openning.
        They are actually hurting themselves by being afraid, they is no other reason to refuse a vaccine that has been given more that 2B times.

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  6. Posted by Nicky on

    Is it true that students still don’t have to wear masks when they go back to school?

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    • Posted by John K on

      Masks will not be mandatory at Aqsarniit. I haven’t seen correspondence from any other schools.

  7. Posted by people should not have to isolate in a hotel for 14 days if fully vaccinated on

    Yes, it does not make sense that that GN is willing to exempt people with no vaccine from isolation (critical workers) but will not do the same for people who are fully vaccinated. Even the federal government is not so strict. You only have to isolate for 3 days in a hotel and can leave once you have a negative COVID19 test, even before the 3 days. You can then isolate at home. Also, a lot of new studies are showing that it is actually safer to isolate at home than in a hotel.

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    • Posted by More info on

      There is no hotel quarantine of you cross the border by land. Also a panel of federal scientists have recommended quashing the quarantine for vaccinated people. Nunavut needs to update it’s policy, as it hasn’t not changed since spring 2020. It is based on old science and is arguably illegal now.

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  8. Posted by reopening too early – the GN never learns on

    The GN has a tendency of getting too overly excited and eager as soon as cases start to drop. No new reported cases does not necessarily mean no new cases. It just has not been detected…..yet. I am pretty sure there are new cases out there.
    They should wait for no new reported cases to happen for at least a month before reopening or herd immunity with the vaccine.

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    • Posted by What if on

      There is a good probability that there will neither be herd immunity nor zero cases, ever. Does it make sense to continue to hold back fully vaccinated people who a) pose little risk to others and b) are unlikely to be infected and c) are very unlikely to need hospitalization if infected?

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      • Posted by Nemerode on

        This was true before the vaccines, now with vaccinated poeple it does not matter…
        the anti-Vax need to be reminded that they are sandbagging everyone, including them

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        • Posted by Antibacterial on

          People who are unvaccinated make up the majority of cases in ICUs across the country. Let Darwinism takes it course. Open Nunavut for those who did the socially responsible thing or lose all credibility.

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  9. Posted by Where’s Baba? 😅 on

    Where’s Baba?

    Iqaluit STRONG!
    Lol childish…..we’re all from Nunavut stop acting like a child.

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