More COVID-19 restrictions to ease Friday in Arctic Canadian city of Iqaluit

A file photo of downtown Iqaluit, the capital of Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. Wastewater testing will be done in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet, as part of a three-month pilot project, to test for trace amounts of the genetic material produced by people infected with the virus. (Kyle Muzyka/CBC)

Masks remain mandatory in all Nunavut communities

At the stroke of midnight heading into Friday, outdoor gatherings in Iqaluit will go up to a maximum of 100 people, and people can have up to 15 guests at home, according to a news release from Nunavut’s chief public health officer.

Restrictions are being eased as it’s now been more than two weeks since there have been active cases in the Iqaluit outbreak that grew to 253 cases. There are currently no active cases in Nunavut.

Other restrictions that are being eased Friday include:

  • Indoor public gatherings, including places of worships, may now include 50 people, or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.
  • Restaurants may open to 50 per cent capacity, though darts, pool, live bands and karaoke, the cause of a superspreader event during Iqaluit’s outbreak, are not permitted.
  • Group counselling sessions of up to 20 people may take place.
  • Fitness classes of up to 10 people are allowed.
  • Museums and galleries may allow group tours.
  • The movie theatre may open at 50 per cent capacity.
  • Indoor team sports may resume.

One other precaution remains in effect, said Dr. Michael Patterson, the chief public health officer, in the release. Masks will continue to be mandatory in all communities “to mitigate potential risk.”

Wastewater testing begins

Wastewater testing is also going into effect in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet, as part of a three-month pilot project, the news release said.

The tests can detect trace amounts of the genetic material produced by people infected with the virus.

A testing program that began in Yellowknife in September of 2020 was able to detect single cases of infection, and prompt testing in order to determine its source.

In addition to Yellowknife, wastewater is currently being tested regularly in the N.W.T. communities of Behchokǫ̀, Fort Liard, Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik and Norman Wells, with the results reported regularly here.

Related stories from around the North: 

CanadaNunavik tourism reopening reason for optimism, vaccination uptake still a concern, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Greenland authorities call for more testing after July 6 flight from Denmark linked to more COVID-19 cases, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Swedish health agency reinstates test recommendation for travelers outside of Nordics, Radio Sweden

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