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GNWT meets with tourism operators ahead of health order changes

Tourism operators were invited to confidential workshops on April 19 and 20 where health officials discussed COVID-19 regulations before a possible change in public health orders. photo courtesy of Peterson's Point Lake Lodge

Health authorities in the GNWT have been consulting with remote tourism operators about modifications to their activites amid possible changes to public health orders.

Owners of big game outfitters, paddling companies and remote fishing lodges were on April 19 and 20 invited to confidential workshops on the modifications, according to the COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat.

Some operators told NNSL Media they had no comment on the workshops.

Preparing for changes

“The COVID Secretariat and Environmental Health Unit in the Office of the Chief Public Health Office have been working closely with NWT Tourism on the development of changes to support remote tourism operations to begin bringing clients into the NWT starting this summer. These changes will likely require a change to existing public health orders,” said a Secretariat spokesperson.

The workshops were intended to provide operators with advance notice on changes so they could begin planning for the season.

The NWT Remote Tourism Operator COVID-19 Operations Plan, which came with information on the workshops lays out rules on how operators must protect their premises, clients and staff from potential coronavirus infection.

Series of rules on operations

Among some of the rules listed in the plan, opeators must keep rotations of clients separate so that new ones arriving at remote lodges or locations don’t mix with departing clients.

Other common COVID-19 regulations apply at operators’ sites, such as restrictions on communal eating indoors, disinfection of common items, masking and social distancing.

The workshops come as NWT tourism operators prepare to face a potential second summer of almost no clients coming from outside of the territory due to the COVID-19 border restrictions.

In the summer of 2020, some operators lost more than 85 per cent of their client base and some lodges, such as Blachford Lake and Peterson’s Point saw declines of at least 75 per cent.