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Northwest Territories travel restrictions: Where you can go in May 2021

Find out what’s open in NWT, from accommodation to travel routes.

With some of the country’s lowest infection rates, the Northwest Territories has closed its borders to all international and inter-provincial travel. Instead, residents are urged to holiday within the province and explore their own local gems. Accommodation, attractions and public transport are all up and running, with measures in place to protect the public.

For more information about the current COVID-19 travel restrictions in the Northwest Territories, read our guide below.

Accommodation in Northwest Territories

Residents are currently free to move around the Northwest Territories as they wish. You may travel with people outside of your household bubble but should try and keep two metres apart whenever possible.

Staying with family or friends

Households are currently allowed a maximum of five additional people in their household at any one time. This means you can stay with your friends and family when absolutely necessary.

Staying at hotels

All hotels in the Northwest Territories are allowed to open, with some rules in place. Fitness centres and gyms can open, but swimming pools and hot tubs should remain closed to the public. You can book to stay with your own household members and up to five additional people that form part of your chosen friendship circle.

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Staying in a holiday home

Just like hotels, you can choose to stay at your own holiday home or a rental, with members of your own household, plus up to five members from your friendship circle.

Staying at hostels

Hostels remain closed in all parts of the Northwest Territories.

Camping and caravanning

Campgrounds and caravan parks are now accepting visitors in the Northwest Territories. Communal facilities such as toilets and laundry rooms are available to use, but all campers should wear masks in indoor public spaces. Tents and campervans are considered indoor space, and should only be shared with members of your own household.

Boats and yachts

You can now rent a yacht or spend time on a boat with members of the same household or from your friendship circle.

Tourist attractions in Northwest Territories

All tourist attractions can open across the Northwest Territories. All venues will re-open at a reduced capacity, with social distancing measures in place. Pre-booking your visit is highly recommended as many venues will be working on a time-allocated ticket basis. All visitors must wear masks during their visit.

Popular attractions that are currently open are:

  • Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
  • Northern Life Museum
  • Hay River Museum
  • Gallery of the Midnight Sun
  • Northern Arts and Cultural Centre
  • The Legislative Assembly Building

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National parks

Only a few of the national parks in the Northwest Territories are currently open for day visits and overnight stays. The rest remain closed until further notice. Outdoor gatherings are permitted for up to 50 people, but you should keep at least two metres from those outside of your household or bubble.

The following parks have reopened:

  • Nahanni National Park
  • Nááts’ihch’oh National Park
  • Wood Buffalo National Park

Beaches and local parks

All municipal parks and local beaches are now open. You may visit these outdoor spaces with members of your household or friendship circle. Alternatively, gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted outdoors as long as social distancing is observed. Indoor areas such as public toilets and showers, and indoor cook shelters, will remain closed until further notice.

  • Dory Point Territorial Park
  • Fort Providence Territorial Park
  • Fred Henne Territorial Park
  • North Arm Territorial Park
  • Hidden Lake Territorial Park
  • Madeline Lake Territorial Park
  • Powder Point Territorial Park

Getting to and from your holiday

Driving within Northwest Territories

Cars are considered to be indoor spaces in NWT. When possible, always travel with members of your own household. If you do need to travel in a car with people outside of your bubble, practice social distancing where possible, wear a mask and increase ventilation in the vehicle.

Flights within Northwest Territories

Residents can currently travel freely through the province, including via plane. Flights from Yellowknife, Inuvik, Fort Simpson and the Hay River are still in action. However, schedules are regularly changing and it’s important to check each flight’s individual status to see if it is going ahead. All passengers must wear a mask while on board the plane.

Flights to Northwest Territories

Travelling into the Northwest Territories from other parts of Canada is currently reserved for essential journeys only. All travellers will have to submit a self-isolation plan and complete 14 days of mandatory isolation. If you are travelling from Nunavut, you may be exempt from this isolation period, but you will need to submit a request to the Chief Public Health Officer before you travel.

The federal government has currently banned all international travellers to Canada. Those who are exempt from this travel ban will have to complete a three-day stay at a government-approved hotel. During this time, you will need to take two COVID-19 tests. If these come back negative, you are free to leave the hotel but must complete the rest of the 14-day self-isolation period at home.

Coach and bus services

Local bus routes continue to run a regular service in the NWT’s significant towns. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, you should purchase bus tickets in advance, and passengers should wear a mask for the duration of the journey.

  • Frontier Coastlines. Regular bus routes are operating between Yellowknife, Rae, Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Providence and Fort Simpson.

Ferry services

All ferry crossings are closed until the summer season. You can expect these to start up again as the temperature warms up around May.

Which territories and provinces can I travel to?

Provinces and territories across Canada have their own rules and restrictions in place when it comes to inter-provincial travel. You’ll find that you can cross most borders, but you will need to have a good reason to do so. This includes travelling for work, education or medical reasons.

  • Alberta. Border is open for essential travel only.
  • Manitoba. Border is open for essential travel only – all arrivals must complete 14 days of mandatory self-isolation.
  • New Brunswick. Border is open for essential travel only – all arrivals must complete 14 days of mandatory self-isolation.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador. Border is open for essential travel only – all arrivals must complete 14 days of mandatory self-isolation.
  • British Columbia. Border is open for essential travel only.
  • Nova Scotia. Border is open for essential travel only – all arrivals must complete 14 days of mandatory self-isolation unless you arrive from Prince Edward Island.
  • Nunavut. Border is open for essential travel only – all travellers must self-isolate for 14 days in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife before boarding the plane.
  • Ontario. Border is open for essential travel only – on arrival, a 14-day self-isolation period is strongly advised.
  • Prince Edward Island. Unless a resident, travellers must apply in advance to travel to PEI and self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
  • Quebec. Border is open for essential travel only.
  • Saskatchewan. Border is open for essential travel only – on arrival, a 14-day self-isolation period is strongly advised.
  • Yukon. Border is open for essential travel only – all arrivals must complete 14 days of mandatory self-isolation.

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Frequently asked questions about travelling in Northwest Territories during COVID-19

How far can I travel from home?

If you live in the Northwestern Territories, you can explore the entire territory, but the local government asks that you do not cross the border into other provinces.

Are there any regional travel restrictions?

No. You are free to travel across the territory.

Can I travel to the Northwestern Territories if I live in another territory or province?

You should only travel into NWT from another territory or province if you are travelling for work, medical care or another essential reason. Before you travel, you will need to submit a self-isolation plan and complete 14 days of mandatory isolation. Some travellers from Nunavut may be exempt.

Do I need to limit the number of people I travel with?

You should try to travel with members of your household only. However, in some cases, you can also travel with those who are part of your chosen friendship circle.

Do I need to pre-book to visit dining venues and attractions?

Many restaurants, cafes and bars are operating at a reduced capacity. It’s generally recommended to call in advance to guarantee a table. Most attractions in Northwestern Territories are not accepting walk-in parties. Instead, you must book your tickets ahead of time and choose a time slot to arrive.

Will I need to self-isolate or go into quarantine when I return from my trip?

This depends on your home province or territory. Most regions, apart from Alberta and Quebec, are asking travellers to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. In Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Yukon, it is mandatory for all new arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days.

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