New Yukon-NWT travel regulations kick in despite case uptick

Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, the territorial medical director, speaks with reporters at the biweekly media health briefing. (Luke Carroll/CKLB)

The opening of the Mackenzie Ferry on the Dempster Highway this week means new regulations around travellers coming from the Yukon kicked in.

The NWT government says the new regulations will remain despite an increase in cases in Yukon over the past week.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were nine active COVID-19 cases in Yukon, including three people that are in hospital. Five of those cases are confirmed to be the P.1, or Gamma, variant.

(The World Health Organization recently announced new names for COVID-19 variants.)

Travellers coming in from Yukon will still need to submit a self-isolation plan to ProtectNWT and request an exemption.

To be approved, the travellers must have been in the Yukon or NWT for the previous 14 days. They also must not be symptomatic, not have been named a contact of a person with COVID-19, not been in close contact with someone who has either travelled out of the Yukon in the past 14 days or is self-isolating.

The NWT government is advising residents that are travelling to Yukon to review its COVID-19 regulations and check the exposure notification list.

“Each exemption is reviewed and if there are high risk situations, like a person visiting an exposure site, identified as a close contact, or part of an outbreak cluster the OCPHO may make recommendations for testing or even self-isolation upon return to NWT,” reads a release.

When first hearing the travel regulations, CKLB asked whether the changes only affected vaccinated residents.

“The exemption process for travellers entering the NWT from the Yukon applies regardless of the traveller’s vaccination status,” said Kelley Ryder, manager of COVID service operation for the GNWT.

In a press conference on Thursday, Dr. Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, explained the reasoning for allowing non-vaccinated residents to travel between the two territories.

She said Yukon only allows vaccinated travellers to skip isolation, which lowers the risk of transmission for anyone visiting from the NWT.

With files from Luke Carroll.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis has been a general news reporter with CKLB since January 2019. Originally from rural Ontario, he first came to the NWT in 2016 as an intern with Up Here magazine and fell in love with the North. In his time with CKLB, he's had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures. Otherwise, you can find him hanging around the Legislative Assembly. If you have a story or want to chat, reach out to francis@cklbradio.com