While normally access along the the Dempster Highway is minimal during freeze-up, the GNWT has announced the road to the Yukon border will be temporarily closed as soon as the ferries stop operating for the year.
An Oct. 29 public service announcement said the road will be closed to traffic between kilometers 1 and 14.2 once both ferries cease operation. The Mackenzie River ferry is scheduled to shut down as of 4 p.m. Oct. 29. The announcement explains the decision was in the wake of two confirmed cases of Covid-19 that entered the territory by way of the Dempster.
“While Highway 8 has remained open in previous years during the changeover, the highway is being closed this year in light of COVID-19, as GNWT border patrol staff cannot easily access certain sections of highway with the ferries out of service,” explains the unattributed announcement. “The Commissioner of the Northwest Territories has made this order under the Public Highways Act to support the Chief Public Health Officer’s response to COVID-19.
“Drivers are reminded that it is unsafe and illegal to drive on a closed highway. Only emergency, enforcement, and construction vehicles are exempted from the closure. Please obey all traffic signs and barricades.”
Once the ice roads have been completed, the Dempster Highway, officially registered as highway 8, will re-open. Until that time, the only road access to the NWT will be via highway 1.