COVID-19 travel restrictions relaxed in Inuit region of Atlantic Canada

A sign on the way into Happy Valley-Goose Bay in May 2020. The town is the main transit hub into Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region in the Atlantic Canadian province of the Newfoundland and Labrador. The Nunatsiavut Government lifted non-essential travel restrictions between communities in their region on Wednesday, but haven’t announced when they’ll lift their call against travel from outside the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area. (Rebecca Martel/CBC)
Travel between communities in the Inuit region of the Atlantic Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is now permitted as of June 3, the local government said on Wednesday.

The Nunatsiavut Government put the travel ban in place on March 19 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time it called for a stop to travel to and from the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area, as well as between Nunatsiavut’s communities, whether by airplane or by snowmobile, unless it was “absolutely necessary.”   

But as COVID-19 cases continue to fall in the province, the government said non-essential intercommunity travel could again be permitted, as long as those travelling had not been directed to self-isolate or self-monitor because of coronavirus symptoms.

Labrador has had a total of six confirmed COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began, but all individuals have since recovered. There are currently no active cases.

Travel restriction from outside region still in effect

Public health directives will still need to be respected, authorities say.

“The Nunatsiavut Government continues to remind all travelers to practice generally-accepted public health protocols to help prevent potential exposure and spread of COVID-19,” the news release said.

The government said it was still discussing when and how the restriction on non-essential travel to the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area from outside the region should be lifted.

Nunatsiavut’s population of 2,560 is spread out between five communities along the Atlantic coast: Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

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Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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