NWT will be closing borders to all inbound travel, few exceptions

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola (left) and Health and Social Services Minister Diane Thom during a news conference in March. (Francis Tessier-Burns/CKLB).

The NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola will be ordering the restriction of all travel into the territory to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Kandola will also order those returning to the NWT to remain in one of the regional centres (Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith) to self-isolate before returning to a smaller community.

A news release sent late Friday evening says the order is “required to ensure the protection of residents of our smallest communities as people return north.”

It also said the territorial government will help support residents who may not have accommodations in the regional centres.

This measure is to “ensure those at risk of COVID-19 due to travel are self-isolating in communities with well-equipped healthcare facilities,” says the news release.

Anyone who has returned to the territory in the past two weeks will be ordered to to self-isolate in their current community.

There are several exceptions to the travel restriction:

  • NWT residents
  • Import/export workers — including those providing important supply chain transportation services for food, equipment, fuel, or other goods into the territory, movers and carriers, and workers that support the supply chain industry
  • Flight crews
  • Medical Travel patients from Kitikmeot
  • Persons who support essential services — including health care professionals, law enforcement, and those who support services that if interrupted could endanger residents’ life, health or safety
  • Workers involved in the construction of GNWT capital infrastructure projects
  • Southern resident transient workers in the mineral and petroleum resources industry
  • People who cross the NWT border while participating in traditional harvesting or on the land activities and who do not enter any communities as part of this

As of Saturday morning, the above order restricting travel has not yet been issued, but is expected to come later today, March 21.

Order enforcement

Earlier this week, Health and Social Services Minister Diane Thom declared a Public Health Emergency, effectively giving the chief public health officer additional power.

Under the Public Health Act, Dr. Kandola can now require any police or municipal enforcement officer to enforce the order.

A person found in contravention of the order could face a fine of up to $10,000 and six months in jail, according to the release.


About the Author

Arthur C. Green
Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked as a spot news photographer/journalist with such news organizations as Vista-radio, CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire and Postmedia in Alberta.