Travel restricted, salons close in Iqaluit over likely COVID-19 community spread

·2 min read

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Nunavut is tightening COVID-19 public health restrictions in Iqaluit, including restricting travel in and out of the capital city to essential purposes only.

The territory said Thursday that the city's swimming pool, theatre, and hair and nail salons must close.

Restaurants are limited to takeout food only.

Indoor gatherings in homes are limited to five people plus household members. Outdoor get-togethers are restricted to 25 people.

Indoor public gatherings in community spaces, including libraries, gyms and arenas, are capped at 25 people or 25 per cent capacity. And churches are limited to 50 people or 25 per cent capacity, with no singing.

The territory said the changes come after a case of COVID-19 was confirmed Wednesday in a person who has not left Iqaluit for more than a month.

"This leads us to believe there may be community transmission in Iqaluit," Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory's chief public health officer, said in a news release.

He added that it will take seven to 10 days before it's known if the case is the fast-spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“As such, we are immediately tightening restrictions and limiting travel in and out of the city. Anyone who has travelled from Iqaluit to another community in Nunavut since Dec. 15 should self-monitor and call the COVID hotline immediately if they develop any symptoms."

As of Thursday, there were three active cases of COVID-19 in the territory.

Earlier in the week, the government reported two cases in Pangnirtung — the first cases seen the hamlet of about 1,500 people. It was not known if they were the Omicron variant.

The territory limited travel in and out of Pangnirtung to essential purposes only and imposed gathering limits.

Premier P.J. Akeeagok asked people Tuesday to remain vigilant over the holidays as cases of Omicron spike across the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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