Phase Two of Emerging Wisely Launches; Travel Restrictions Amended

News Releases

Yellowknife — June 12, 2020

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has moved to Relaxing Phase Two of Emerging Wisely – the territory’s plan for relaxing the COVID-19 public health restrictions,  and made amendments to the territory’s travel restrictions.


In phase two, outdoor gathering limits increase, more businesses and organizations will be able to open indoors with precautions in-place, and offices will be able to have a maximum of 25 people per floor as long as they are set up for physical distancing of at least two metres.


Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola has recommended we move to Phase 2 because standard testing remains strong, contact tracing capabilities remain strong, and community spread is non-existent.


The territory still has no active cases, and has not reported a new case in 69 days.


Most jurisdictions have seen an increase in cases when public health restrictions have been lifted and efforts will be made to avoid this across the NWT


The Chief Public Health Officer continues to require physical distance of two metres while at outdoor gatherings, recommends keeping to a limited friendship circle for indoor get-togethers, and requires businesses and organizations to have strong precautions in-place.


Updates have also been made to the Public Health Order – COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Self-Isolation Protocol, and these changes come into effect today. Amendments have been made to form a two-territory travel bubble with Nunavut.


Other amendments include clarification on requirements for those moving to the NWT and traveling within the NWT for work or school. There is also additional clarity for family reunification as a compassionate exemption.


Notice of Future Amendments


Future amendments will also be made to the travel order to allow exemptions for residents of the NWT who are employed as:


  • Supply chain workers
  • Flight crews
  • Airline employees

These workers regularly leave the territory for employment purposes and return in the course of the same day. They have minimal contact with other communities and therefore the need to self-isolate, so long as the right precautions are taken are not necessary.


These situations to date have been handled on a case-by-case. The future amendments would eliminate the need for this burdensome implementation step, and provide clear precautions for these workers to abide by.



“I am pleased that our territory has reached a point where the Chief Public Health Officer feels it is safe to move into phase two of the Emerging Wisely Plan.  Reaching new phases is an important part in making sure our territory is moving forward and able to focus efforts on recovery. As we continue to meet these milestones, the GNWT will continue to work together and find ways to support NWT residents and ensure the health and safety of our people, territory and economy are at the forefront of our decisions.

- Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories 


“The changes residents of the NWT have made to the way they live, work, and play during the COVID-19 pandemic, is what has allowed us to reach this phase two milestone. As we enjoy the loosened restrictions though, we are accepting more risk and more responsibility. Chances are we will get more cases in the future, so playing our part and following the rules and recommendations are more critical than ever to keep the ones we love safe.”
- Diane Thom, Minister of Health and Social Services


“I’m pleased we’ve reached a point where we can revitalize our communities and un-cancel summer. But remember – COVID-19 is unforgiving, and it can move silently. So be on high-alert – not just for today. Get used to good habits we’ve been practicing as we prepare for a large surge of infections across Canada most experts believe will come this fall. Keep up with the basics: wash your hands, cough and sneeze into a tissue or flexed elbow, stay two metres apart, keep your get-togethers small, wear a non-medical mask when you’re out and unable to keep your distance, and stay home if you’re sick. That’s how we can keep each other safe.”

- Dr. Kami Kandola, NWT Chief Public Health Officer


Quick facts:

  • The two-territory travel bubble will allow NWT residents to visit Nunavut without needing to self-isolate upon return, and vice-versa once Nunavut has completed the requisite changes to their public health orders.
  • As of today, Nunavut residents will be able to visit the NWT without self-isolating.
  • This will not exempt Nunavummiut who are required to self-isolate when returning from travel outside of their territory.
  • Residents should note that travel originating anywhere other than the Northwest Territories continues to not be permitted in Nunavut. They will not be able to enter.
  • Self-isolation is still required to take place in the existing isolation communities – Fort Smith, Hay River, Yellowknife, and Inuvik.
  • For those coming for professional reasons, the GNWT will not be responsible for costs if an established isolation centre must be used.
  • Existing processes for essential workers, infrastructure workers, those supporting essential workers (i.e. childcare providers), and remote camp workers remain the same.

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Media contact

Mike Westwick

Manager, Communications (COVID-19 Response)

Health and Social Services