Nunavut MLAs now exempt from isolation requirements when on official travel
Isolation hubs to remain in place until reliable testing capacity available in territory
Nunavut MLAs are now exempt from mandatory isolation requirements put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, says the territory’s chief public health officer.
Nunavut’s member of Parliament, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, and Senator Dennis Patterson were already exempt from isolation requirements.
The exemption applies only to “official travel necessary to conduct parliamentary, legislative assembly and constituency business and does not apply to travel for personal matters,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, at the government’s COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Aug. 4.
Despite the exemption, government representatives can still choose to go through the isolation hubs.
The exemption does not apply to government staff or government representatives’ family members.
To re-enter the territory, government representatives need to go through the same process as critical workers.
That means for the first 14 days after arriving in Nunavut, government representatives need to “respect social distancing when at work, isolate at home when not at work and wear a mask where separation cannot be maintained,” Patterson said.
Also as of Aug. 10, Government of Nunavut offices will be open to the public.
Airline funding still up in the air
The GN is looking to the federal government to help keep the territory’s airlines running, Premier Joe Savikataaq said.
The GN has spent $24 million since March 30 to support Calm Air and Canadian North.
Savikataaq said he met with representatives from northern airlines last week, where it was agreed they would seek compensation from Transport Canada.
“We agreed that we’re going to try to join forces to come up with a compensation package,” Savikataaq said.
“We’re waiting on the federal government because they said one is coming,” he added.
In April, the federal government gave northern airlines $5 million. But the airlines need more money to stay afloat, Savikataaq said.
“It has to be better than what we got last time,” Savikataaq said.
Also, following last week’s announcement of a second isolation hub in Winnipeg for medical travellers, Savikataaq said there is currently no waiting list to get into the Winnipeg hubs.
Previously, the wait for medical travellers to get into the isolation hub in Winnipeg was up to three weeks.
To date, the GN has spent about $21 million on isolation hubs, Savikataaq said.
But it’s difficult to tell how long the isolation hubs will stay in place, Patterson said.
“When we get the testing capacity in territory where we can get a reasonable turnaround time on all results, then we’ll be shifting towards isolation at home,” Patterson said.
Right now, the average turnaround time for COVID-19 tests in Nunavut is about seven days, Patterson said.
There will be no more weekly GN COVID-19 updates for the rest of August.