Highway 7 between Fort Liard and British Columbia could reopen to more traffic "within the next few weeks" if communities support the idea and specific vaccine levels are reached, the Northwest Territories government says.
The territorial government said there would be a "gradual reopening" of the highway and no precise date for the beginning of that process could yet be given.
“When the border is opened to allow for inbound traffic, the COVID Secretariat may review the hours to allow for day trips into Fort Nelson, B.C., by opening the border for several hours in the morning, and again later in the day for several days a week,” a spokesperson for the territorial government said.
Highway 7 is already for people looking to exit the territory, who must make an appointment to cross the border on a Tuesday or Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Commercial vehicles carrying essential supplies or performing essential services can also use the highway.
At the moment, no other traffic is permitted to enter the territory via Highway 7.
The COVID-19 Secretariat and Office of the Chief Public Health Officer said they were “working with community and Indigenous leadership in and around Fort Liard" to plan the highway's reopening.
“A key consideration is the acceptance of self-isolation in Fort Liard and Nahanni Butte by local leadership,” the GNWT said.
A meeting between the territorial government and leaders of the Hamlet of Fort Liard and Acho Dene Koe First Nation took place on June 30, the First Nation said.
According to the First Nation, 80 per cent of people aged 12 and over are considered vaccinated, the “Liard Highway 7 gate to two-way traffic will be incrementally opened, with a first step of opening two days per week, morning and evening.”
The territorial government later said that process might be modified.
Multiple requests for comment from officials at the hamlet and First Nation were not returned.
Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio