The Government of Nunavut has released its guide to easing COVID-19 restrictions in the territory, called “Nunavut’s Path.” Restrictions will start to be lifted June 1 and will be reassessed every two weeks. (Photo By Emma Tranter)

Nunavut government releases plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the territory

As of June 1, daycares and parks can open, and outdoor gatherings of 25 will be permitted

By Emma Tranter

(Updated at 4 p.m.)

The Government of Nunavut has released its guide to easing COVID-19 restrictions in the territory.

The document, called “Nunavut’s Path: moving forward during COVID-19,” outlines low-, medium- and high-risk measures that may be lifted over time.

It does not outline specific dates for when restrictions will be lifted.

“Trying to forecast specific dates and timelines for when we can lift our public health measures would be inaccurate and frankly insincere,” Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said at a news conference this morning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly and every single week yields new information that shapes our strategy and our public health measures.”

The process of lifting restrictions will begin next Monday, June 1, Patterson said.

Starting June 1, only the following will be allowed:

• Daycares will be permitted to open up for regular business.

• The size limit for outdoor gatherings will increase to 25 people.

• Territorial parks will be reopened for outdoor activities only. All park buildings will remain closed.

• Municipal playgrounds will be re-opened.

“These particular conditions have been selected because they are deemed low risk,” Patterson said.

Given the high risk of transmission, the number of people who can gather indoors will remain at five people, Patterson said.

And although municipal parks can reopen, it is ultimately up to each hamlet whether they want to ease that restriction in their community, Patterson said.

Patterson also said he will meet with daycares to discuss their reopening plans, and will review guidelines and recommendations on enhanced hygiene.

Every two weeks after June 1, Patterson will reassess the situation and decide whether to re-introduce restrictions, pause for more assessment, or ease restrictions to allow more programs and services to open.

“It is time for us to move forward. This does not mean that this pandemic is over. This does not mean the threat is passed. This means that we can cautiously begin our return to the activities we enjoy, knowing that at any time we may need to change our behaviour to protect ourselves from emerging threats,” Patterson said.

The lifting of restrictions will be announced by category: low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk measures. The plan is to start with the measures that involve the lowest risk, Patterson said.

“We will be announcing periodically, every two weeks or so…. We’ll try to give as much notice as we can. This gives us the flexibility to respond as things change.”

Examples of low-risk measures include opening daycares, opening parks and playgrounds, increasing the number of people participating in outdoor gatherings, opening work places, opening gyms for solo workouts and swims, providing in-person health-care services, opening retail outlets, and in-territory travel between communities.

Medium-risk measures include dining in restaurants, visits to long-term care facilities, opening hair salons, resuming in-person activities at the courts, and opening schools and college campuses.

High-risk measures include allowing indoor community feasts and concerts, lifting household visitor restrictions, and opening bars and pubs.

Travel restrictions, however, are expected to continue in some form until “we have more information about effective therapies and/or a vaccine for COVID-19,” the document states.

That includes the isolation hubs, where Nunavut residents returning to the territory must spend 14 days before boarding a plane.

“The isolation hubs will be one of the last, if not the last, restrictions to go and the easiest threshold for that is reliable treatment or vaccination. We will continue to monitor the evidence and look at other measures that might reduce the impact of, or other methods of reducing the impact of, closure of those hubs,” Patterson said.

Patterson said easing restrictions would also mean new public health orders will be issued.

It also means people should continue to practise personal protective measures, he said.

“No one is left unaffected by this pandemic, but our collective accountability has kept Nunavut safe so far. This accountability and responsibility needs to continue, and, as we loosen restrictions, we must continue to practise social distancing, stay away from others when we are sick and wash our hands often,” Patterson said.

And, as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, so will Nunavut’s plan to re-open, Patterson said.

“If the threat of COVID-19 increases, or eased public health measures are posing a potential public health threat to the territory, we may need to introduce or re-introduce certain conditions,” he said.

In addition to assessing the situation every two weeks, Patterson said the criteria that will “guide Nunavut’s path” include reliable in-territory testing, the status of COVID-19 transmission in the territory, and the status of COVID-19 transmission in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut.

Nunavuts Path Final Framewo… by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(50) Comments:

  1. Posted by No travel ban lift until vaccine? on

    So no one can leave the territory for vacation until a vaccine is in place like 16months from now? I am not spending two of my holiday weeks sitting in hotel quarantine.

    • Posted by Inuk990 on

      instead of purchasing portable testers for the 3 hub cities to test people before boarding north. They will spend millions on hotel fees till the vaccine is found.

      • Posted by Only If on

        If there is ever a vaccine. There is no guarantee.

        • Posted by Inuk990 on

          True! I feel sorry for the patients that have to be stuck for 14 days especially if they didn’t come in contact with covid when there are testers that can be used! They should be able to go for their medical travel and when done get tested a day before heading home

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      That is what GN Health is counting on! If you make leaving a big enough disincentive then fewer people leave and the GN has fewer bills to pay hubbing them on their return. Do they think us incapable of hubbing in our homes once we return?

      • Posted by Monument to our Ineptitude on

        Definitely not, the GN does not trust people to self-isolate on their own.
        This whole situation is a monument to Nunavut’s ongoing failure on so many levels.
        We’re in lockdown without cases because if they lift lockdown we can’t be trusted to go back into lockdown again if there actually are cases. We’re treated like children, because we’ve repeatedly acted like children.
        We’re at risk because we have to import so much labour from the south.
        Between the “critical workers” and the returning Nunavut a few thousand people (and counting) have come in without a test.
        Because apparently we only test symptomatic people, even though asymptomatic spread is well documented.
        We can’t hold the GN accountable because the regular members rolled over so easily and just delayed the Assembly until the fall (nice to see Main and Quassa reconciled in their shared timidity).

  2. Posted by Marie on

    Some ministers should be able to go to their offices now and run the Government. Staying in Iqaluit would have been best and help their premier with updates. Each department could have been represented and questioned by media.
    People are not stupid and will remember when election comes.

  3. Posted by Say what now? on

    School and offices closed but send out kids to daycare?

    The government can’t meet for the spring sitting but daycare can open?

    Have they prepared the daycares for opening with training of staff or additional support for cleaning?

    • Posted by Purple Pickles on

      Today’s broadcast said do what you feel is best for you. Which basically means you dont have to send your kids to daycare. It seems like GN’s has gotten a lot of criticism for not providing daycares with enough financial support to keep them a float. They are opening them up only to shut them up for asking for more funds. I would not send my kids in.

      Why are they not opening the schools if they can open daycares. Little kids will be harder to keep separated and their hands away from their faces and all those other recommendations that will go out the window.

      • Posted by Iqaluit Sun on

        I agree 100% The GN is choosing to fixate on the medical reasons for opening daycares by saying children are less susceptible, than by addressing the dire lack of funding available to keep daycares afloat.

        • Posted by King tut on

          Too many people complaining about costs of daycare (which I know is expensive) has caused too much pressure on the GN. But you cannot put a price on the lives of children. The federal government provided funds to support the residents. Providing money for the airlines that are at risk is one thing. Saying chilndren are not at risk is just a lie.

          Those complaining about having to look after your own kids… that gets me too. What a terrible thing to complain about. There are many who cannot have kids, have kids who have passed away, etc. Check yourself before you speak.

        • Posted by Pickled Herring on

          I know we have been singing the praises of Mr. Patterson for a while now, and for the luck of an isolated geography and some good policy this has held up fairly well. I am certain his rationale has been compromised by political pressures at times and this case is a striking example to me:
          Mr. Patterson: reasoning that children are less susceptible and therefore daycare should be open totally defies the logic of the social distancing protocol we’ve been under for the last couple months, and anyone who has been paying attention knows this. It’s not about the kids specifically, kids might not be as susceptible (though some can be and you know this). Kids, like anyone else can be carriers and off it goes.
          That said, I’m not necessarily opposed to reopening daycare, but this is an economic and political calculation above all else, at least call it what it is and as someone pointed out above, maybe the Doctor shouldn’t be shouldering those implications on his own.

  4. Posted by Head in the sand on

    I fail to see why everything is virtually at a stand still? We’ve had no cases here since covid began, everyone coming into the Territory is quarantined for 14 days, so they should be covid free. Why can’t we just social distance and wear mask and return to some sense of normality like some other provinces in Canada?

    • Posted by Reality on

      Very good point. Nunavut is squandering the fact that they are Covid-free, and have the actual ability to remain that way due to their control of who enters the territory, and the quarantine and other restrictions they place on them. Nunavut could and should be the most normal place right now, and people could be benefitting from the isolation from the outside world for once. Instead, once the virus finally finds its way to Nunavut, everyone will be so sick of the unnecessary isolation they are doing now, that they won’t cooperate later on when it really matters.

      • Posted by Andy on

        Do you actually see resident practicing social distancing and wearing masks? I don’t!! As for your point to return to normality, did this actually change?

        • Posted by Missing the Point on

          You’re missing the point. There is no silent community spread, Dr. Patterson has said as much. But somehow we’re still in lockdown. Apparently our neurotic leaders think they know better… it’s the one thing that they don’t reflexively defer to him about.
          And yes, I have seen people wearing masks and obeying rules. Not all, but a decent proportion.
          But the biggest “social distancing” measure that people are happily complying with (near 100% compliance!) is the one where they don’t have to work but still get paid.

    • Posted by amanda on

      There are hundreds of people who applied to enter Nunavut without having to isolate, as essential or critical workers. So I would definitely not say that “everyone” who enters Nunavut has isolated and doesn’t have it. We’ve been lucky in tossing the coin of risk that none of these essential workers coming in has had and passed on the virus.

      • Posted by We are not stupid on

        The issolation hubs is all for show. By letting in some without issolation makes the entire system a waste. The low, medium and high risk categories is all a show to fit into their poltical agenda.

        No way little kids are low risk and school age middle risk. Would I send my baby to daycare while keeping home my older kids from school for safety? Heck no.

        This is another decision they will regret.

    • Posted by Reality check on

      The 14 day quarantine has only applied to about 25% of those that have actually returned to Nunavut. The other 75% have been deemed “critical/essential” and they get a free pass on the requirement to quarantine for the 14 days. They do have to follow some rules once in Nunavut but are able to work in the community and therefore come in contact with people. This is the risk group to Nunavut. They all present as asymptomatic but may in fact be carriers who have now freely flown into Nunavut. This is why it is important for Nunavutmiut to be diligent as the government and health officials slowly start to reopen the territory. Stay safe folks.

  5. Posted by Itssnowingout on

    GN should just declare daycares as an essential service and explain to people why the reopening day cares “so people can go back to work” Rather than saying they see it as low risk… right the most vulnarable people *kids* are low risk???

    • Posted by Get a grip GN on

      I 100% disagree with the GN starting off by opening of daycares. To say they are low risk is sneaky.

      How are children under 5 (in daycare) more low risk than those in school!? Are kids in the north different than the kids in the south. Daycares were absolutely not the first to open in the south. When some did they did so with a concrete plan. Kids tempatures were taken, reduced number of kids etc. Many closed after opening and many more are still not open to full capacity.

      Just when you think things could not possibly get more stupid! Can’t wait for the next election to come.

      • Posted by Health worker on

        I dont like how the GN puts Dr Patterson as their escape goat.

        It is his job to give medical opinions and advice.

        It is the GN’s job to give policy and operational advice. They tried to do the same when forcing the teachers back by saying we go by what Dr Patterson says.

        Oh no! That was a political decision and there is no way a Dr can give a “medical opinion” on bringing back teachers.

        Decisions like this require a human lense. I see a bunch of cowards hiding behind their poor decisions. I would quit my job and stay home before I let my grandkids back into daycare right now.

        • Posted by Emergency as Cover on

          Good point about the GN hiding behind Patterson and deferring all manner of questions to him. Experts are supposed to be “on tap”, not “on top”. This is clearly just a way for Cabinet to wash its hands of responsibility and avoid making any difficult decisions.

    • Posted by Good plan, confusing risk classification on

      Clearly many of the scenarios in the low risk category are not inherently low risk but have been determined low risk because of other factors that make resuming them desirable. Misrepresenting risk (ex. masks) for extenuating reasons has proven to be a poor public health policy decision – for one, because it confuses people which leads to ill-informed decisions about personal protective behaviours. It’s absurd that a community feast or indoor concert are high risk while scenarios with ongoing and sustained exposure between people like daycares, schools, workplaces, restaurants, theatres, visits to long terms care facilities are either low or medium risk.

  6. Posted by Inuk990 on

    Makes me wonder why the people have to quarantine for 14 days when the virus can also be spread by objects, pretty sure the stores aren’t putting the goods under 14 day quarantine before putting them on sale

    • Posted by Greek Yogurt on

      They don’t live very long on surfaces though, definitely not 14 days. This is from the Government of Canada website:

      This may vary under different conditions such as surface type, relative temperature or humidity of the environment. The virus has been detectable up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

      • Posted by Inuk990 on

        You forgot 72hrs on plastic and stainless steel, the truth is it hasn’t been tested on everything and therefore we do not really know as of yet what it is fully capable of

  7. Posted by Making a bad situation worst on

    Leave it to the politicans to reopen with less than a week’s notice.

    Where are kids who are normally in school or city run camps suppose to go?

    What about those of us who gave up our daycare spots because we couldn’t keep up with the payments while they were shut down?

  8. Posted by Sam on

    All the southern doctors are saying second wave will hit in sept,enjoy youselves in Nunavut hunt,fish,camp, enjoy and embrace your land and are the lucky ones and getting paid on top of that.

  9. Posted by Northener on

    If i do choose to go on holidays, what is the procedure to get into the 14 day quarentine south. Do you have to call and reserve rooms and what kind of waiting period is there to get into quaratine? Can i check in whenever i choose or is there a lengthly waiting list

  10. Posted by Selfish on

    Maybe it’s time to stop being selfish and to think about the impact COVID-19 could have to Nunavut. Right now, Nunavummiut are in one of the safest places in the world, but if we ever have any cases coming to Nunavut, it will be one of the most dangerous places. So, commenters, stop being political and pretend you know it all and what you would have done different, or that you’ll remember this situation and the performance of your MLA or the Premier during the next election. You guys just don’t get it, do you? Don’t come back crying when your family members or friends are infected and possibly pass away because of your suggestions. Once again, stupid comments made by individuals who have no clue about what they talk about. Keep the self isolation in place until we can be sure nobody will bring the virus to us.

    • Posted by Paul Murphy on

      To Selfish: BANG ON! All the armchair experts seem to think they know better. At this point in time and from my pov, masks should be mandatory i.e. the law. Not a recommendation. However I leave that to Dr Patterson. Because I can’t depend on the common sense of people, I will wear a mask in areas I believe I would be susceptible,

  11. Posted by Northern Guy on

    No easing of travel restrictions “Until we have more information about effective therapies and/or a vaccine for COVID-19.” Who wrote this? Clearly not anyone with expertise in public health or epidemiology! This has to be the stupidest statement yet. What if no therapy or vaccine is ever developed Mike? And what about the scads of so-called “critical workers” many of whom work for the Dept. of Health who seem to be able to come and go as they please? Why are Nunavummiut being punished?

    • Posted by Andy on

      Northern Guy, I normally agree with your comments, but this one seem odd to me. Nunavut is one of the safest place to live in the world right now,but once the isolation requirements are lifted, it can easily become the most dangerous one. Keep the restrictions in place and keep Nunavummiut safe. Thank you Mike!!

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        Holding an entire population hostage and forcing them to hub for two weeks in a southern location is an arbitrary decision that isn’t based on good public health policy. This is especially true when you allow in reams of critical workers and integrate them into workplaces across the territory with no self isolation or testing. Nunavut has a population of just over 30,000 we could have had everyone tested within weeks of the start of the pandemic.

        • Posted by Paul Murphy on

          Northern Guy. I would suggest you re-read the comment by Selfish and rethink your comment. Normally I also agree with you, but not this one.

        • Posted by Emergency as Cover on

          This is a good point. We need transparency on the “critical workers”, what kind of workers, how many, etc.

          It’s going to come in this way – that or the 14 days without a test. That’s not long enough – pre-/a-symptomatic spread appears to be a real risk.

          And why are we so eager to throw money at isolation hotels but testing is still so limited?

          Is the regime we’ve been offered (14 day hotel stay) – to the exclusion of all others (i.e. I don’t have an option to pay for a series of tests to expedite the process) a reasonable limitation on our right to mobility under the Charter?

  12. Posted by Sam on

    Now, now doctor said

  13. Posted by Optimist on

    Less than 10,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Canada in the first 5 months of 2020, but about 260,000 Canadians die every year of other causes.

    The world’s economy has been changed while most people have been confined to their homes. Sort of like a war or a depression, but done faster and without bullets.

    World wide, only 1 person in every 1,000 has had Covid-19.

    This has a long way to go. The second wave could be 1,000 times as big. But not to worry. If it is, Global Warming will be solved and the important people have had time to hide in their walled gardens.

    Nunavut’s isolation may protect us from that second wave.

    We can hope…

    • Posted by Why u dum on

      You are right. Nunavut has paid over 4 million dollars to save 1 percent of the lives here. That is 1 percentage point of 44, 000 people. So 4400? The number of deaths remains the same, the cost however goes up.

      • Posted by Numbers on

        1% of 44,000 is 440. But the it’s a little more complex. In the south most of the deaths are 20% of those over 70 years of age. We only have a few hundred people that old in Nunavut, suggesting the number of fatalities would be lower. However, we have a higher proportion of people with lung issues due to TB and smoking, so that may raise the fatality rate in younger Nunavummiut.

  14. Posted by A new GN low on

    Dont gather in groups more than 25? Unless you are a child? Children who share everything with one another and put everything in their mouths?

    These are what the government call low risk?

    Talk about manipulating the facts.

  15. Posted by Baffled on

    Dr. Patterson, you want to talk about low risk and or high risk?? Why did you order the Marriot Residence Inn staff not to clean Nunavut patients rooms? Why did you order them to put thier food on the floor?? Are you going to make proper arrangements?? Or no? Can you please explain to to the public? That “Quarantine Hotel” doesnt even give patients garbage bags? Who recommended that the rooms dont get cleaned, you or the Minister of Health? those orders had to come from one of you. Public has the right to know so they can expect what’s not expected at the “quarantine Hotel” Boast about spending 4 million dollars on that hotel since March but with no proper services, just literally giving them money instead of making the best of that 4 million.

  16. Posted by B Aglukark on

    Most articles state covid-19 like the annual flu is continually evolving (changing), and there is difficulty in achieving-finding the right vaccine. Now, some scientist are warning that the covid-19 virus may be disappearing too quickly to make an accurate vaccine. If this is the case, the Premier will at some point have to make a “political decision based on all information“ and not just rely on medical advice. I do not think this government has legal means to have its residents confined to the territory’s boundaries with restrictions if and when the rest of the provinces and territories open their borders. Waiting on a vaccine – is a little far fetched.

    • Posted by Emergency as Cover on

      Someone needs to crowdfund a Charter challenge.

      The current set of options and restrictions is not reasonable and may not even be optimal for keeping out the virus. I’m not an expert, but I haven’t heard any expert critique of the utility and justification for Nunavut’s restrictions, only the party line.

      Now if only we could find someone who isn’t ultimately beholden to the GN to organize that Charter challenge.

  17. Posted by Guinea Pig on

    Opening daycares is a cruel experiment to help stimulate the economy using women and children as guinea pigs. This is not a HEALTH based decision. This is a POLITICAL decision! Fund daycares and keep them closed! All it will take is one case of an essential service family coming into contact with another essential service worker who is self monitoring and has COVID… the essential service worker brings the germs home to their child and the child brings those germs to daycare. The staff and kids fall ill with COVID.

    But who really cares because they’re “just daycare workers”?

  18. Posted by CITIZEN on

    It is extremely dangerous for the Legislative Assembly to distance themselves at this time, oh no, so they suspended until SEPT, unlike the MPs who sit.

    Then the GN will let the babies and toddlers go into daycares in JUNE where they hug and share food and do not understand the distancing. Thank you.

    • Posted by Pink Blanket on

      Grown men and women— politicians— ,
      can’t sit six feet apart because they’re scared of getting sick, but the GN wants us to send our babies to daycare because they refuse to find Nunavut’s future.

      Sick and sad.

  19. Posted by George on

    There’s normally at least six people at my workplace in a small office (federal) where it’s hard to social-distance. So is it okay for me to go to work, but not the MLA’s or GN employees? My job can’t be done from home, but I’m not designated as “essential”. I’m high-risk for COVID-19 (age and underlying health issues) so apparently I have to either risk getting the virus or not getting paid.
    Sure, there’s no cases in Nunavut of COVID-19 right now (that we know of) but I’d rather not be case number 2 (I’ll catch it from #1, likely an “essential worker” or medical traveller who didn’t have to self-isolate).

  20. Posted by Colin on

    Please do more testing with people coming into Nunavut from the south, that includes essential workers.

    80% of people infected show little sign or symptoms of Covid-19, does the GN have the testing kits now?

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