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To limit the introduction and spread of COVID-19, the Chief Public Health Officer has issued the following public health orders that residents must follow:
- Public Health Order – COVID-19 Relaxing Phase 1 (effective May 15, 2020) – relaxes restrictions on indoor gatherings to allow five people to visit, to a maximum of 10 people in total inside the house at anytime; outdoor get-togethers of 25 or less; and allows for some businesses and facilities to open.
- Directed at Mineral and Petroleum Industry – requires mining and oil and gas industries to take a number of measures to protect public health and continue safe operations at all mining and gas projects in the NWT.
- Travel Restrictions and Self-Isolation Protocol (Amended April 27, 2020) – new requirements for NWT residents, non-residents, and several categories of workers coming into the Northwest Territories. These new measures cover practices like social distancing after entering the territory, symptom declarations, and other accountability and tracking measures to enhance COVID-19 protection and response in the NWT.
Public Health Officers appointed by the Chief Public Health Officer will serve in all regions of the NWT, and make sure we can enforce the public health orders.
Experienced officers from across government have been brought in to help the effort. They include enforcement staff from the departments of Health and Social Services, Environment and Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Municipal and Community Affairs, Justice, and Lands.
In certain circumstances, the RCMP or Bylaw officers may be asked to assist.
The Chief Public Health Officer has appointed three Deputy Chief Public Health Officers with decades of experience in enforcement with Government departments and agencies to lead the taskforce.
- Conrad Baetz – Department of Lands, Assistant Deputy Minister
- Dennis Marchiori – Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Director
- Adrien Barrieau – Department of Justice, Director
The first role of the enforcement team is as educators – helping members of the community understand the rules and giving them the right information to follow them.
That is why the Chief Public Health Officer chose to form a taskforce including people who already have good relationships and trust within their communities – they are meant to be allies and will not arbitrarily hand out tickets.
But if there are people breaking the rules, then there are penalties available.
If someone chooses to ignore the rules, they have the following tools at their disposal:
- Educate people or businesses on the rules and instruct them to follow them
- Issue written warnings to people or businesses for not following the rules
- Issue a ticket for as much as $1500
- Issue a court summons where if convicted of an offence, a Judge may issue a fine of up to $10,000 if rules continue being ignored
- In extreme circumstances, under the authority of the Chief Public Health Officer, a Public Health Officer may apprehend and detain you if there is a significant and imminent risk to public health
Note: We are offering compassionate exemptions to our orders, because we understand that they can sometimes have unintended consequences. For more information, please see Compassionate and exceptional exemptions to the public health orders.
Here is how it works – step-by-step:
- A complaint is received
- Public Health officials consider things like the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 or danger in the community to make an assessment on how risky the situation is
- Public Health Officers are provided this information to investigate what happened in the community
- The person or company who was complained about is informed and questioned about what happened
- The situation is resolved using the most appropriate tool available to the Officer. Most often, that means educating the person so they can comply, or giving a warning.
- If a ticket is issued, just like any traffic ticket, you can either pay the fine, or dispute it in court
- If you are summoned to court or arrested, you are innocent until proven guilty to a judge
To get the facts of a case, a Public Health Officer may call or visit the person who complained and visit or call the person or business being reported.
They would then collect evidence to ensure a full understanding of the complaint. In very remote circumstances, under the authority of the Chief Public Health Officer, a Public Health Officer may enter a premise or dwelling to carry out their investigation and collect evidence.
The Officer has the discretion to employ the correct measures such as education, warnings, tickets, court summons, or arrest based on the situation.
Public Health Officers may ask for assistance from the RCMP or Bylaw officers if needed.
- Email email@example.com
- Call 8-1-1. Protect NWT staff are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.