Community restrictions to ease in Nunavut, Arviat stays on lockdown

·4 min read

A two week territory-wide lockdown is set to end in Nunavut on Wednesday when restrictions will ease up for all communities except for Arviat.

"Until we can be absolutely certain that there is no community transmission in Arviat current restrictions will remain in place for that community," Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a news conference on Monday.

The lockdown in Arviat will continue for another two weeks starting Wednesday and travel in and out of that community will continue to be restricted.

Four more cases were reported on Monday in Arviat where there are now has 86 active cases.

Over the weekend, Nunavut reported 13 new cases on Sunday and five new cases on Saturday. Despite this, active case counts in the territory are falling. As of Nov. 30, 73 people have been reported as recovered.

Missed the government update? Watch it here:

This brings the territory wide total to 108 active cases as of Monday, down from 113 on Sunday and 131 on Saturday.

Patterson says these kinds of fluctuations are normal.

Restrictions ease in Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove

With no community transmission happening in Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet, travel restrictions for those communities will be lifted on Wednesday. Non-essential travel is not recommended. There are 14 active cases in Whale Cove and 8 active cases in Rankin inlet, according to the government's website.

In Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, indoor gatherings will be able to return to the household plus 10 people.

Workplaces can open with physical distancing and meetings for government and Inuit organizations can be held at 50 per cent capacity of a space or 50 people.

Jordan Konek/CBC
Jordan Konek/CBC

Schools in those communities will be in stage three of the Education department's reopening plan, meaning schools can reopen for two to three days per week on staggered schedules for elementary and upper grades because there is no community transmission. There will be no group activities or physical contact.

Places of worship will also open to 50 per cent capacity with no singing.

Arenas will be staying closed but parks and playgrounds can reopen. Gyms will reopen for solo workouts and libraries and galleries will reopen with social distancing but no tours or group gatherings are allowed.

Hair salons won't be allowed to reopen. Restaurants in the two communities will open for takeout and delivery only.

Taxis will be able to take one fare with mandatory masks.

Patterson says all households in Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove with active cases have been identified.

"All recent transmission for those communities has been related to people living in those houses," he said.

Cases continued to be announced for those communities because many families live in crowded homes, he said.

"There is a chance that it will continue to spread for a little bit even in the houses that we have identified," he said.

All other communities see lockdown lifted, previous restrictions stay

In all other Kivalliq communities, and in the Kitikmeot and Qikiqtaaluk regions, restrictions will ease even more.

Private indoor events will be set to 15 people plus members of the household.

Schools outside of impacted communities will be in stage two of the Education department's reopening plan. Elementary schools will reopen and high schools and middle schools will reopen for a mix of in-school and remote learning. There will be no group activities and bussing will be staggered.

The Arctic College is open for a reduced numbers of students.

Theatres and arenas will be reopened and gyms can reopen for solo workouts and pools can reopen for lane swims. Saunas and hot tubs will also reopen. Libraries and galleries will be allowed groups of ten people.

Restaurants will be able to reopen to 50 per cent capacity for seated service.

Singing will be allowed at churches.

"Keep in mind, a new outbreak of COVID-19 could impact any or all of these restrictions at any time," said Patterson.

While no residents have been fined to date for breaching public health orders, a business in Iqaluit was fined, Patterson said, for continually breaching orders over the numbers of people allowed inside.

These breaches happened prior to cases being announced in Nunavut, he said.

Of the new cases from Sunday, 11 are in Arviat and two are in Whale Cove. There have been 177 cases in Nunavut so far.

Anyone who has reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 is advised to call the COVID hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or notify their community health centre right away, and immediately isolate at home for 14 days.

The government update will play later in the day on CBC radio.