The GNWT will lift all Covid-19 restrictions by April 1, while isolation requirements for travelers and proof of vaccine requirements for businesses will be lifted March 1, according to territorial health officials.
The lifting of restrictions was announced in a press conference on Friday that included Premier Caroline Cochrane, Minister of Health and Social Services Julie Green, and chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola
“We’re ready to begin looking past the pandemic and the public health emergency to what the new normal will be,” said Cochrane in announcing the lifting of restrictions.
Some measures will remain in place until April 1, such as indoor mask mandates and the requirement to report a positive Covid test.
Cochrane said the GNWT would dismantle the Covid Secretariat over the coming weeks, which has been coordinating the territory’s pandemic response since September 2020.
It was previously announced that leisure travel to the territory would resume March 1.
Green said she will lift the public health emergency a month later, on April 1.
She said the territory is shifting to a “continuous readiness approach,” where the focus will be on protecting vulnerable populations rather than limiting case numbers.
“The data now shows that severe outcomes from Covid-19 are statistically lower, even though cases are higher,” said Kandola.
She said that during the Omicron wave, there was about one death for every 1,000 cases, as well as less than one ICU admission and about five to six hospitalizations.
Travelers coming into the territory will still be required to fill out an isolation plan. Kandola explained that although the test is still called a “self-isolation test,” it will only be used to determine testing requirements for those entering the territory.
Green said that although the GNWT will continue to offer recommendations for safety, “Ultimately, residents need to make choices based on what they are comfortable with.”
If there are no changes, Kandola said, “We will end all restrictions by April 1.”
“Covid-19 is not going away; It is changing.”
Earlier this week, obstetrics services resumed at Stanton Territorial Hospital. In Friday’s press conference, Green stressed that although services had resumed, their continuation will depend on having adequate staffing at the hospital, which could be threatened by an outbreak forcing staff members to call in sick.