April 1 marked a major turning point for Covid-19 rules as Hay River, along with the rest of the territory, transitioned from pandemic into endemic.

Representatives of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority spoke to about 30 people at Whispering Willows senior’s complex March 31 as the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer began lifting restrictions.

Erin Griffiths, CEO of the HRHSSA (Hay River Health and Social Services Authority) greeted guests, along with Brian Willows and Glen McPhee, manager of quality and risk from the hospital.

Griffiths discussed the implications of changes to Covid-19 restrictions as of April 1 and what it means for residents in Hay River.

Among them include the ending of mandatory isolation requirements for those Covid-19 positive. Health authorities are providing recommendations but are not requiring most rules.

“(Isolation) is strongly recommended and if you are Covid positive that you stay home and after seven days of staying home, that you wear your mask in public for an extra five to seven days,” she said.

Griffiths noted that recording of one’s isolation and being held to account for isolation is no longer required.

There is also no formal requirement for proof of vaccination status by the GNWT, although businesses may still want to see it.

While the health centre will continue to test people, after April 1, that will only be done for people who have been medically advised to be tested for Covid. Otherwise the service will be phased out in the coming months.

“The big portion of the next rollout without the public health emergency will be people doing their own testing at their own policies,” she said, noting service is free of charge.

Testing kits can be picked up at the health center or the Northmart.

Griffiths said some other important takeaways include that there will be no more limits on indoor or outdoor gatherings, meaning that guests visit as they want.

Travel outside the territory will no longer require a self-isolation plan.

Hay River health facilities

The Hay River Health and Social Services Authority is still maintaining some caution on some Covid protocols. For instance the hospital cafeteria, which has been off-limits anyone from outside the facility, will remain restricted to staff and in-patients for the time being.

Visitors to all health facilities will also require medical masks be worn at least for another few months.

“We’re going to monitor that until the end of June and what the community status is for Covid numbers,” she said. “Then we will either lift it or we will continue until September after the summer break. Then we’ll take a look at it again.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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