IQALUIT, Nunavut — Travellers who have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine will soon be exempt from a 14-day stay in Nunavut's government-run isolation hotels.
Starting next Monday, fully vaccinated travellers will be free to travel in and out of the territory without isolating and without a COVID-19 test.
Since March 2020, Nunavut has required all travellers to isolate in a hotel in southern Canada before flying into the territory. There are hotels in Edmonton, Yellowknife, Winnipeg and Ottawa that act as isolation hubs for Nunavut residents.
"Current evidence shows that fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to acquire and transmit the virus, and we are confident that removing the isolation requirements for this group represents a low risk for COVID-19 introduction in Nunavut," chief public health officer Dr. Michael Patterson said Monday.
About 60 per cent of Nunavut's adult population is fully vaccinated, while vaccines for youth between 12 to 17 are to start in the territory next week.
Travellers need to apply for an isolation exemption through the Nunavut government and provide proof of immunization. Anyone vaccinated in Nunavut is already on a list in the territory's health database. Approved travellers will get a letter of authorization to enter the territory before boarding the plane, Patterson said.
Nunavummiut need to consent to having their vaccine status verified. Fully vaccinated people currently staying at one of the isolation hotels can apply to leave early.
Patterson said vaccinated adults with children who aren't vaccinated will still need to complete 14 days of isolation. Fully vaccinated travellers will still have to follow public health measures once in Nunavut.
Premier Joe Savikataaq praised residents for their hard work in following public health measures.
"I'm very happy that we are able to move into this next phase of living with COVID, and I encourage all eligible Nunavummiut to get their vaccine if they haven't already," Savikataaq said.
Fully vaccinated people can also travel within the territory without isolating, Patterson said.
As of Monday, there was only one active case of COVID-19. The case was in Iqaluit, where 253 people have recovered from infection since the first case was reported in the city on April 14.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship
Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press