In Nunavut, a public health emergency has been declared. While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut, declaring a public health emergency allows the territory to be coordinated with efforts across the territories and Canada, and to take the measures necessary to keep the territory prepared for the virus.
Effective March 20, 2020, and until further notice:
- Restaurants will be takeout only with no more than 10 people in a line-up at any time.
- All bars will close.
- Taxis are limited to one pick-up per fare.
- Food centres and soup kitchens across the territory can remain open for five days to lessen impacts to food security. They will be provided with takeout containers to be able to prepare meals for takeaway.
In addition, Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer recommended anyone who is not in an essential service delivery position and has arrived in Nunavut since Sunday, March 15, 2020, to self-isolate immediately for 14 days. Family members and those living with people who are self-isolating, but did not travel themselves, are recommended to self-monitor, limit non-essential outings and practice strong social distancing. Finally, starting on March 20, 2020, government employees will transition to remote work as much as possible.
On March 26, 2020, the Nunavut government’s travel ban announced on March 24, 2020, is now in effect, and the government provided additional details with respect to the requirements to enter the territory for returning residents and critical workers. Further service updates from various government departments can be found here.
March 27, 2020: All Territorial Parks are closed.
March 30, 2020: All persons under investigation for COVID-19 are subject to mandatory isolation. If in breach of mandatory isolation, individuals may be fined up to $50,000 or up to six months in jail.
On April 2, 2020, the Nunavut state of emergency was extended until April 16, 2020. There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut and the extension is to ensure it remains that way. All existing measures under the public health emergency order remain in effect.
Dental services are limited to emergency services.
April 7, 2020: The Department of Education sent a letter to all school staff about returning to work in their home communities on April 21, 2020. This is specific to staff only so that they can prepare and develop continuity of learning plans in the case the school closure is extended. Teachers returning to work will focus on supporting students in their education and their wellbeing by developing learning packages. This is particularly important for those students that do not have access to online resources and those who are on specialized learning plans.
On April 8, 2020, the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) announced relief measures for employers who are unable to make their WSCC assessment payments as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Effective April 1, 2020, the WSCC has suspended late payment interest charges and further extended the assessment payment deadline to August 1, 2020. The purpose of these changes is to give extra time to employers to adjust their payroll estimates for 2020 and to make their payments later in the year without facing any penalties.
Employers who do not require an extended deadline are to continue with their planned payment schedule.
The deferral of employer assessment payment means that employers currently registered with the WSCC can move to two equal instalments paid in August and October 2020. The financial relief measures do not apply to the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Nunavut which remain on a standard four instalment schedule.
All employers with changes to their workforce as a result of COVID-19 are encouraged to look at their payroll and submit a revised estimate to the WSCC for their 2020 assessable payroll as soon as possible. Estimated payroll includes payroll for workers, casual labourers, and any contractors you are covering for work taking place in the Northwest Territories and/or Nunavut in the current calendar year.
Employer payroll estimates can be changed online through WSCC Connect.
April 16, 2020: In Nunavut, the territory’s Public Health Emergency was extended until April 30, 2020.
April 17, 2020: In Nunavut, the government announced that all schools will remain closed to students for the remainder of the school year.
On April 28, 2020, in Nunavut, the government announced a new Order Respecting Social Distancing and Gatherings (“Order”). The Order came into effect on April 24, 2020, and replaces the previous Order Restricting Mass Gatherings dated March 23, 2020.
Except as previously ordered by the Chief Public Health Officer, the Order permits all businesses and organizations operating or carrying on business to continue to do so as long as they:
- implement social distancing of two (2) meters within their workplaces;
- limit the number of customers on their premise to five (5) persons at a time if they cannot, due to their physical size, maintain the social distancing requirement of two (2) meters.
The government clarified that the following businesses and services must remain closed:
- food service establishments and licensed premises. Restaurants can continue to provide take-out or delivery, if they can implement the social distancing requirements above;
- businesses operating as personal service providers (i.e. hair dressers, barbers, massage therapy, etc.); and
- dentist, veterinarian, and psychologist offices (except for emergencies).
The Order contains several exceptions. Employers with activities in Nunavut should carefully review the Order online to ensure that they are compliant.
In Nunavut, on April 30, 2020, the government restricted all travel to and from the municipality of Pond Inlet, except for cargo and emergency travel.
With respect to reopening plans, the government stated that it will consider relaxing current restrictions when:
- the territory has succeeded in achieving in-territory diagnostic capacity;
- there are decreasing rates of COVID-19 in the southern jurisdictions to which Nunavummiut most often travel; and
- there are no active cases of COVID-19 within the territory.
On May 1, 2020, in Nunavut, the government published its Community Travel and Gatherings Restriction Order Pond Inlet. In addition to the travel restrictions that were previously announced, the Order provides that all businesses operating in Pond Inlet must close except for:
- Grocery stores;
- Fuel and motor vehicle stations;
- Post offices; and
- Restaurants offering take-out.
On May 4, 2020, in Nunavut, the government lifted measures and restrictions (see above) specific to the municipality of Pond Inlet.
On May 29, 2020, in Nunavut, the Public Health Emergency was extended until June 11, 2020.
In addition, the government introduced the Nunavut Essential Workers Wage program. For a period of up to 16 weeks, eligible employers may receive funding to increase their employees’ wages up to an extra $5.00 per hour to a maximum of $25.00 per hour. Applications will open on June 1, 2020 and employers may apply on the Department of Finance’s website.
June 4, 2020: In the Nunavut, the government reiterated that all travellers are subject to a 14-day isolation before being allowed to enter the Territory. However, the government stated that critical workers may be exempted from isolation. Critical workers are invited to submit a Critical Worker Exemption Form to the Chief Public Health Officer to obtain the required authorization.
On June 8, 2020, in Nunavut, the government confirmed that all travellers (with some exemptions) must stay at a designated facility for a 14-day isolation period prior to entering the Territory, and implemented a new process to reserve a stay:
- all Nunavummiut who must travel outside of the Territory are asked to send an Isolation Reservation Request Form to the email address NUisolationreservations@nunavutcare.ca; and
- all individuals who are applying for critical worker exemption are invited to contact the email address CPHOTravelRequests@gov.nu.ca.
On June 26, 2020, in Nunavut, the government announced that its COVID-19 media updates would be broadcast once a week starting June 29, 2020.
On July 9, 2020, in Nunavut, the Public Health Emergency was extended until July 23, 2020.
For information on Nunavut’s reopening plan and measures see Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.