Travellers from Yukon entering the Northwest Territories will soon be offered exemptions from self-isolation requirements.
The change will come into effect at the start of ferry operations on the Dempster Highway, the N.W.T. government says in a news release Wednesday.
Julie Green, N.W.T.'s minister of Health and Social Services says it's an "appropriate time" to offer this exemption, with both territories having a low number of cases, "a successful vaccine roll-out and strong public health measures in place."
"There are strong ties between both of our territories and this change will allow families and friends on both sides of our borders to see each other again while continuing to keep our territories and communities healthy and safe," Green said in a written statement.
N.W.T. residents and non-residents arriving from Yukon will still have to submit a self-isolation plan and exemption request through ProtectNWT.
Before being exempt, they must receive an approval letter from the chief public health officer. Those looking to qualify must also have been in Yukon for at least 14 days before coming to the N.W.T.
If people have transited through another jurisdiction besides Yukon on their way to N.W.T., they won't qualify for an exemption. It's the same process already in place for travellers arriving from Nunavut, the release says.
People who have already arrived in the N.W.T. from Yukon will be able to apply for the exemption retroactively.
N.W.T.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola calls it part of "a measured approach to easing" the public health measures associated with COVID-19.
"I am now pleased that we have taken another step forward in our pandemic response," Kandola said in a written statement.
"As we continue to offer vaccines to our eligible population and more N.W.T. residents build up immunity to COVID-19, we will explore ways to reduce restrictions when the scientific evidence supports it and it is safe to do so."
Conditions still apply
There are a few other requirements for travellers from Yukon looking for an exemption from self-isolation.
Those people must:
Not be symptomatic.
Not have been named a contact of a person with COVID-19.
Not have been notified that they were part of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Not have been in close contact with someone who has travelled out of the Yukon in the past 14 days and/or is under mandatory self-isolation.
Travellers will not be eligible for an exemption:
If they are coming from a community with travel restrictions in place.
If they are coming from a community experiencing community transmission of COVID-19.
If they are coming from a Yukon camp or work site that has out-of-territory workers.
As well, the N.W.T. government's news release says the exemption process applies to travellers from Yukon regardless of vaccination status.
Those who do get approval must follow the conditions set out in the exemption letters during the first 14 days of arriving in the N.W.T., like wearing non-medical masks in public places where social distancing cannot be maintained.
Household members of a traveller with an exemption from self-isolation will also be exempt and will not need to self-isolate.