Guidance for residents

Last modified: 
09/09/2021 - 12:09
  • Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the NWT’s public health measures have protected individuals, families, and communities from COVID-19 exposures. NWT residents, workplaces, small communities and larger centres have all learned a lot about COVID-19.
  • As Public health measures begin to relax across the NWT and Canada and we learn to live with COVID-19, individuals will need to make personal risk assessments and choose the best options to protect themselves.

How to protect yourself

Get vaccinated.

The most important measure is getting vaccinated. Globally, as of June 4, 2021, over two billion people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, including hundreds of millions of people who received an mRNA vaccine. The vaccines in the NWT are very safe and effective. In some high risk situations, however, like living in a home with someone who has COVID-19, even someone who is fully vaccinated can still develop COVID-19. Even if a person develops COVID-19, the vaccines are very protective against severe disease. People who are vaccinated should still get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and continue to follow routine public health measures. 

It is also important that NWT residents get their second dose as soon as they are eligible. As first dose vaccinations have increased across Canada, it is anticipated that the delta variant B.1617 will become the dominant variant. Studies have shown that one dose of mRNA vaccine is only 33% effective against this variant.

Be careful with travel.

For travel advice and guidance, NWT residents can review the Public Health Agency of Canada’s travel guidance. For domestic travel, it is always important to look at provincial and territorial breakdowns of regional hot spots for COVID activity.

  1. Practice healthy respiratory practices.
  2. Make informed decisions and assess your personal level of risk when choosing to attend an event or activity. 

Making informed decisions based on level of risk

Type of information

Lower risk

Moderate risk

Higher risk

New variants of concern

No new variants of concern

New variants circulating that are not more transmissible and /or moderate in severity

New variants circulating that are significantly transmissible and/or severe

Vaccine effectiveness against new variants

Vaccines shown to work against variants

Vaccines provide partial protection

Vaccine does not protect against variant


No outbreak declared in your community

Outbreak declared but is contained

Outbreak declared and not contained

Wastewater surveillance

No COVID-19 detected 

Positive and/or expected wastewater signal

Positive and/or unexpected wastewater signal

Community transmission

No community transmission detected

Community transmission detected in the NWT

Community transmission detected in my community or community I am travelling to

Community vaccine uptake

High uptake

Moderate uptake

Low uptake

Once I have assessed the risk at a community level, it is important to assess the risk level of the activity I want to participate in.

Level of risk by activity

Characteristic of Activity

Lower risk

Moderate risk

Higher risk

Who is participating

Alone or with household members

Gathering with friends and family who are not in your household

Gathering with people who you do not know or you do not know  everyone in attendance

Are other participants vaccinated?

All other individuals are vaccinated

Gathering includes individuals who are not fully vaccinated  

Individuals are largely unvaccinated 

Gathering size

Small gathering

Medium gathering

Large gathering

Type of gathering or activity

Virtual gathering

Contactless pick/up or drop off

In-person with spacing, physical barriers or masking in place

In person gathering

Close contact

No masking

Where is the gathering


Large space

Indoors, well ventilated

Large to moderate space

Indoors, poorly ventilated

Small space


Physical distancing can be maintained 

Physical distancing by household or social group

Physical distancing cannot be maintained

Duration of activity

Short interaction with others 

Moderate duration with others

Prolonged interactions with others (multiple hours)

Travel history of attendees 

Nobody has returned from travel recently

Persons who have recently returned from travel within Canada 

Someone has recently returned from travel outside of Canada or from high incidence area 


Nobody in attendance has any symptoms of COVID-19

Individual may or may not be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19

Individuals are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19

Activity temperature 

Warm and dry


Cold (example ice arena) 

Humid (example steam room, pool)

Nature of activity

Low exertion (example yoga, walking)

Minimal movement

Shared equipment (example volleyball, basketball, frisbee)

Aerosolizing (example singing, wind instruments)  

Cause heavy breathing (example HIT classes, Spin, intense sports, dancing)

Public Health Measures

Public health measures include all ways that people can help to protect the population from COVID-19. Some are rules that are enforceable, some are recommendations, and some are extra measures tied to approvals under certain orders.

  • An example of measures that are enforceable include capacity limits or self-isolation requirements.
  • An example of a recommendation is whether or not travel outside the territory. An example of a measure tied to an order when indoor restrictions are relaxed could be that if you want to hold an indoor gathering in August for a wedding, and it has more than 200 people in attendance, the OCPHO may need to see that you have ways to allow for physical distancing in place. In the final example, the gathering of more than 200 people is not allowed, and that order is enforceable. But if the physical distancing measure is applied (along with other possible measures depending on the unique circumstance), the gathering can go ahead but the physical distancing measure then becomes enforceable. 

As all restrictions are removed, all public health measures will still be applicable to many situations, and should be followed by communities, businesses, and individuals, dependent on their own circumstances. However, when this time comes the government will no longer enforce them. Enforcement throughout the pandemic was needed to protect the NWT healthcare system. As long as people continue to be safe based on their own choices, people and the health system will continue to be protected.

Make informed decisions and assess your personal level of risk when choosing to attend an event or activity.