Nunavut is modifying its usage of COVID-19 quarantine hotels to allow fully vaccinated travellers entry into the territory without spending two weeks in isolation.
Individuals are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after their final dose of a government-approved vaccine. Once inside the territory, they are still expected to abide by local public health measures. Those who are travelling with someone who is non-vaccinated, including parents with an unvaccinated child, will still be required to spend two weeks inside a designated quarantine facility.
“Current evidence shows that fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to acquire and transmit the virus, and we are confident that removing the isolation requirements for this group represent a low risk for COVID-19 introduction in Nunavut,” the territory's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a press release.
“In order to further mitigate the risks of introduction for the time being, those travelling with non-vaccinated individuals will still be required to isolate prior to entering the territory.”
The territory's shift in policy is scheduled to begin on June 14.
Since March 2020, Nunavut has required travellers — including those returning home from time in other parts of Canada, or those who are deemed non-essential workers — to spend two weeks isolating at hotels in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife before returning home.
Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq offered praise to the public for adhering to health measures, saying that “Nunavummiut have worked hard following all the public health measures, and the COVID vaccines have added enough protection to allow us to take this step.”
“I’m very happy that we are able to move into this next phase of living with COVID, and I encourage all eligible Nunavummiut to get their vaccine if they haven’t already,” the premier said.
Local outlet Nunatsiaq News reported that some constituents have levied criticism at Savikataaq's government, saying that these restrictions have “discouraged travel to the south, imposed hardship on people who needed to travel for medical treatment or other reasons, and made it difficult for workers from the south to go to Nunavut.”
As of Monday, the territorial government is reporting one active case and four total deaths linked to COVID-19 since the pandemic was declared. Data from May 31 shows that 69 per cent of the territory's adult population has received one dose of a vaccine, while 60 per cent have received a second.