As Emerging Wisely moves forward, Public Health officials are working closely with businesses and organizations to alter their standard practices to get activities ahead more.
Last week, return-to-play plans for some high-profile organizations were approved after submission to the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.
These approvals are provided as Exceptional Circumstances Exemptions under the public health orders on Phase 2 of Emerging Wisely. In these instances, activities were moved from Phase 3 to Phase 2.
The organizations approved were:
- Yellowknife Gymnastics Club – all programming for those 19-and-under.
- Yellowknife Amateur Speed-Skating Association – all programming for those 19-and-under.
- Yellowknife Sporting Club Hockey Skills Camp – all programming for those 19-and-under.
Minor hockey associations have also been invited to submit their plans for return-to-play in preparation for the upcoming season.
Each of these approvals were based on prudent planning by the organizations incorporating guidance from national associations, rigorous public health risk assessments by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer, and a healthy back-and-forth with organizations to help get them guidance on resuming as safely as possible.
In this way, the process allows for some flexibility – recognizing the value these kinds of activities bring to our communities – while keeping to an evidence-based approach to keeping residents as safe as possible during the pandemic.
A similar process is available to all businesses and organizations in the Northwest Territories – and many have accessed it to increase capacity safely to bring their operations a bit closer to normal.
“As we continue to rise to the challenge of COVID-19, revitalizing our communities safely and as much as possible will remain top-of-mind. It’s one way we’re assuring mental, social, and cultural well-being is not neglected during our response. Our message to our communities: if you believe there are ways to alter activities to make them safer while moving the needle a bit closer to normal, get in touch – our public health professionals are willing to work with you.”
-Diane Thom, Minister of Health and Social Services
“Our office assesses each plan and each request for an exception through the same vigorous public health risk assessment methods we used to develop Emerging Wisely. We’ve been pleased to see a lot of creative thinking from organizations to make their environments safer for their clients and staff with smart changes in their standard operations. Moving forward with caution is our best chance to keep communities within our boundaries as open as possible, for as long as possible.”
-Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories
- Since the territory began relaxing restrictions, 34 separate Exceptional Circumstance Exemption approvals have been provided to businesses and organizations to give some more freedom safely.
- The territory’s process for re-opening within phases generally does not require interaction with public health – with the key requirement being to keep risk assessments on-file and adhere to their requirements in case of inspection from the Worker’s Safety and Compensation Commission.
- If businesses and organizations wish to apply for exceptions under the public health orders – whether to alter activities to bring them back in an earlier phase or to increase capacity based on your individual situation – submit the application to ProtectNWT@gov.nt.ca for consideration as far ahead of time as possible.
Manager, Communications (COVID-19 Response)