News Release: State of Emergency Declared in the Northwest Territories

News Releases

Yellowknife — March 27, 2020

Effective March 24, 2020, the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), Paulie Chinna, declared a territory-wide  State of Emergency under the Emergency Management Act to support ongoing efforts to protect public health in the Northwest Territories.


This decision does not indicate a significant change in circumstances or an increased risk to the people of the Northwest Territories.  The need to declare a state of emergency at this time is to make it more efficient to deploy resources to protect residents and enhance our response to the orders made by the Chief Public Health Officer.

This step has been taken to ensure the Emergency Management Organization (EMO) is better able to support the implementation of the orders issued by the Chief Public Health Officer to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and gives the EMO the authority to control and direct all persons, including the GNWT and public agencies involved in emergency management plans or programs under the Emergency Management Act.


At this time, all residents are urged to follow these Orders and all other direction and advice from the Chief Public Health Officer.


The State of Emergency will be in effect from March 24 through April 7, 2020.


“It is really important that the Government of the Northwest Territories does everything it can to support our Chief Public Health Officer. This Order will give us additional authorities to help Dr. Kandola and make sure she is able to do everything she can to protect NWT residents.  Now is a time for us to move forward, calmly and steadily. It is a time for all Northerners to join together and support each other. Follow the advice and directions of health officials and emergency responders. Let’s be kind to one another and, as we have done so many times before, let us come together as a community to face this challenge together.”

  • Paulie Chinna, Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs

“I want to assure the people of the Northwest Territories that all levels of Government are taking this pandemic very seriously, and doing what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19.  Declaring a state of emergency, as many other jurisdictions have, will help ensure that our officials have all the tools they need to do their jobs to protect and care for residents. We will continue to work closely with the Federal government, provinces and territories to ensure coordinated approaches to the pandemic.”

  • Caroline Cochrane, Premier

Quick Facts

  • The State of Emergency was declared on the recommendation of the head of the Emergency Management Organization, Ivan Russell.
  • Declaring a State of Emergency provides additional powers to the Minister and those designated by the Minister to do all acts and take all necessary proceedings, for the duration of the order, to deal with an emergency.
  • Steps already taken by the GNWT to support the implementation of the public health order include establishing isolation centres and putting measures in place to receive travellers at airports in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River and Fort Smith, and at ground entry points to secure borders in Enterprise, Fort Smith, Liard and Dempster entry points.

Related links

Government of the Northwest Territories – Public Safety Notices, COVID-19 Information


For all COVID-19 Media Requests, Contact:

Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories