Government of the Northwest Territories introduces new step-by-step approach to ending pandemic restrictions

News Releases

Yellowknife — June 9, 2021

Today, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) released Emerging Wisely 2021: Step by Step Together, its plan for easing and ending pandemic restrictions.

The plan outlines the public health restrictions that will be eased starting today. This plan sets specific targets based on vaccination levels in the NWT and across Canada as well as COVID-19 case counts. As these targets are reached, restrictions will be eased or discontinued until eventually no public health restrictions remain.

Specific targets have been established based on an informed risk analysis and are outlined in the plan. The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) has determined, based on vaccination levels in the NWT, that it is now safe to ease restrictions on outdoor gatherings in the NWT. 

Indoor gathering restrictions will be eased next. The CPHO is targeting the end of the current school year for this change to take effect. Waiting until the school year has finished will help to ensure that a level of safety remains in place for the most vulnerable population; children under 12-years-old. 

Emerging Wisely 2021 – Step by Step Together also outlines changes to self-isolation requirements and travel restrictions in the NWT for both residents and out-of-territory leisure travellers. It is anticipated that the self-isolation period for fully vaccinated travellers may be eliminated by early summer. By fall, leisure travel is expected to resume and be open to all visitors without the need for an exemption.


“Emerging Wisely 2021 – Step by Step Together is a plan tailored to the Northwest Territories and will provide a path forward so we can emerge from the pandemic, safely. This is an evidence-based plan built on data, rather than firm dates, and supports our efforts to ensure we make the best decisions for our residents. With this new plan, we are positioned to respond to the pandemic’s evolving nature and ease restrictions as conditions and information allow, enhance restrictions as required, and target restrictions as necessary. 

- Caroline Cochrane, Premier

“Our healthcare system is critical to the health and safety of NWT residents and it can’t be taken for granted. Whether you are healthy, or you are recovering from a COVID-19 infection, or you have been diagnosed with another illness, this plan protects all of us while allowing each of us to determine our own risk tolerance. We all need to continue to do our very best to understand the risk associated with the choices that we make, and how to stay safe while managing that risk.”

- Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services

“In the world of public health no one is safe until everyone is safe. While I understand that individual choice about these restrictions is valuable to residents, we will continue to work toward the common health of the entire NWT population. I am pleased to see vaccination levels rising and COVID-19 cases decreasing in other jurisdictions. You have done your part well, and we need to take cautious steps toward easing restrictions so that we can continue to keep our communities and residents safe.”

- Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Medial Health Officer

Quick Facts

  • The GNWT will now include community-level vaccination data on the GNWT dashboard each week along with regional and territorial coverage updates. It can be filtered by eligible population aged 18+, eligible population aged 12+, or overall population of the NWT, like in other jurisdictions.
  • Beginning today, public health restrictions on outdoor gatherings will be relaxed for events up to 200 people if physical distancing is possible.
  • By early summer, it is anticipated that self-isolation and testing requirements for domestic travellers will be eased. This will allow fully vaccinated travellers to travel without being required to self-isolate upon their return and will allow shortened self-isolation periods for partially vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.
  • By the fall of 2021, it is anticipated that all public health restrictions in the NWT will be lifted.

Related links


For media requests, please contact:

Dawn Ostrem
Manager, COVID Communications Operations
Health and Social Services
COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat