N.W.T.-Yukon travel exemption suspended due to COVID-19 outbreak

·2 min read
Sam McKay is one of several people from the N.W.T. Beaufort Delta region who took advantage of a brief travel bubble with Yukon, only to learn that she'll have to self-isolate when she gets back to Inuvik. (Submitted by Sam McKay - image credit)
Sam McKay is one of several people from the N.W.T. Beaufort Delta region who took advantage of a brief travel bubble with Yukon, only to learn that she'll have to self-isolate when she gets back to Inuvik. (Submitted by Sam McKay - image credit)

The N.W.T.'s chief public health officer has closed a brief travel bubble between the N.W.T.'s Beaufort Delta and Yukon due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Yukon.

People in the Beaufort Delta had long pushed for an exemption that would allow them to travel the Dempster Highway to Whitehorse without having to self-isolate on both sides.

Exemptions began to be granted on June 9. Two days later, Yukon health officials declared an outbreak based on 13 COVID-19 cases in the territory.

By Tuesday, that number had risen to 21 known cases and the territory had experienced its third death related to COVID-19.

"It is disappointing," Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobsen told the CBC.

He pointed out that any N.W.T. folks who are in Yukon right now and who aren't from Inuvik could end up having to pay for a hotel in the regional hub for the length of their isolation.

He'd like to see the government giving travelers more notice, and covering the expense of isolation.

"This could get pretty costly for some people," said Jacobsen, who represents people in Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok.

Sam McKay is fortunate. She left Inuvik for Whitehorse on June 7 to visit her boyfriend. She'll now have to face self-isolation upon her return to Inuvik, but at least her roommate there will be travelling so she won't have to isolate in a hotel.

"We didn't plan for this," she said.

McKay said that in the future, she'll include some buffer time in any travel plans in case she has to isolate unexpectedly.

"As much as I'm frustrated, I do understand why this is happening," she said, adding that health officials are "just trying to do their best to keep the Delta healthy and safe."

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