Savannah’s Family Restaurant has reduced its hours for several days while the owner self-isolates with a young family member, whom she accompanied on a recent medevac flight.

The business’s Monday and Tuesday hours were adjusted to 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Other family members would take care of the restaurant in the owner’s absence, the Franklin Avenue eatery stated in a Facebook post July 2. Its 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours for Wednesday to Friday remain unchanged.

READ MORE: Savannah’s Family Restaurant

The isolation is in line with Office of the Chief Public Officer (OCPHO) rules that require children under the age of 12, who cannot yet be vaccinated, to self-isolate for at least 10 days with a negative test on the 10th day. Children under two don’t need to take a test on day 10 but only isolate until then.

Frustration with isolation rules

Commenting on Savannah’s situation, Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce President Tim Syer said chamber members are frustrated that fully-vaccinated residents must isolate for at least 10 days when returning to the NWT with an unvaccinated child under 12.

“Businesses are struggling to attract and retain staff, and this public health order makes it more difficult for businesses to utilize the labour they’ve got,” Syer said. “The businesses that are impacted the most are those who rely on front-line workers who cannot do their jobs from home while they self-isolate.

“The OCPHO’s messaging that self-isolation requirements have been lifted seems misleading and disingenuous to residents who want to travel with their children, and people are increasingly frustrated as this requirement is eliminated in other jurisdictions, like Manitoba and the Yukon,” he added.

The Yukon government on June 18 stated that children under 12 returning to the territory wouldn’t have to self-isolate if they’re with fully-vaccinated parents or guardians, who also don’t have to isolate.

Yukon chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley said the changes were recommended based on lower risk of transmission from children, Yukon News reported.

READ MORE: Changes coming to allow Outside travel with unvaccinated youth under 12

Rules exist for extra protection

OCPHO spokesperson Darren Campbell said the office recognizes the isolation requirements for travelling families have impacts on people and businesses but added the rules are there for additional protection of communities, not for punishment.

“The NWT’s highest risk of an outbreak or community spread is by importation from out-of-territory travel and the evolution of variants of concern, which are more transmissible than the original strain of the virus and are infecting younger segments of the population,” Campbell said. “Children born after 2009 are currently not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. We also know children can pass on COVID-19 to others – including their friends and family members, some of whom could be at risk of severe illness.”

Partially-vaccinated or unvaccinated residents and families with young children must self-isolate appropriately to help protect those children under 12, Campbell added.

Avoiding more outbreaks

He also pointed to the N.J. Macpherson School outbreak, where 83 per cent of the 71 infections were in youth under 18 and the mean age of infected children was 8.4.

That outbreak began on May 2 and was declared over by the OCPHO on June 14.

RELATED REPORTING: N.J. Macpherson COVID-19 outbreak over, says OCPHO

“This is a situation the NWT wants to avoid happening again and why self-isolation requirements announced on June 21 are in place,” Campbell said.

He further explained that the current set of self-isolation rules are temporary, with a Pfizer vaccine for children under 12 expected to be approved in the fall, and all public health restrictions expected to be lifted in mid-to-late fall.

Efforts to contact the owner of Savannah’s Restaurant for comment were not successful.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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  1. I’ll be a nay-sayer but if the protections are there for the communities, why are the communities population not respecting it. Countless times my cousins, friends and associates of theirs were on isolation at a hotel here in YK, however they took this as a chance to party and rarely stayed. The OCPHO office does nothing to enforce rules but continues to punish us rule-abiding members and hurt businesses