(Yellowknife – September 2, 2020) – Starting Monday August 31st, 2020, the NWT health and social service (HSS) authorities started the process to implement continuous masking in all facilities and offices across the NWT.
Continuous masking will be in place in all NWT HSS facilities and offices by September 14, 2020. On this date, we will be requiring the public to also wear masks in our facilities, however; we encourage the public to wear masks when coming to our facilities and offices, starting immediately.
An occupational health and safety risk assessment has been completed in each HSS Authority office and workspace; this took into account infection prevention, and control principles which protect staff, patients, clients, and visitors in our facilities. Based on these assessments, all employees that cannot maintain 2 metres of distance from other individuals will be required to wear either a cloth/non-medical mask, or a medical mask, depending on the nature of their work and location of their worksite and space.
As we roll out the implementation of continuous masking, the public will notice more requests to wear a mask at our facilities in the coming days and weeks. We encourage individuals to bring their own mask; however, if an individual does not have their own mask, our staff may be able to provide you with one.
Wearing a mask is an easy and effective way to protect others and limit or stop the spread of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories. Evidence shows that COVID-19 can be spread even when individuals are feeling healthy, and wearing a non-medical mask or facial covering can be effective in protecting others around you.
“Wearing a mask is a reasonable intervention and another layer of protection that we can put in place to keep our communities safe. Our staff will be wearing masks when they cannot physically distance and we are asking the public to do the same. We need to work together to protect the NWT from the threat of COVID-19. .”
-Sue Cullen, Chief Executive Officer of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority
“In addition to practicing good hygiene and following public health measures such as frequent hand washing and social distancing, wearing a mask is another tool we can use against the threat of COVID-19. Cloth face coverings and masks are powerful tools to protect ourselves, our families and our communities especially when used collectively.”
- Erin Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer, Hay River Health and Social Services Authority
- Continuous masking is the wearing of medical or non-medical masks by staff while performing tasks throughout the day where physical distancing between staff and the public and/or between staff members is impossible or impractical (e.g. when providing hands-on patient care, etc.)
- Both employees and the public will be asked to continually wear masks in facilities and offices when they cannot maintain appropriate physical distancing.
- If you have a mask and will be visiting one of our offices or facilities, please bring your own.
- If you do not have your own mask, our staff may be able to provide you with a non-medical mask.
- Individuals with respiratory issues can be given a medical-grade masks to provide them with additional protection.
- We will not deny service to any patient who will not wear a mask, but emphasize that wearing a mask is a reasonable intervention that adds another layer of protection or everyone; this is especially important in health facilities where those who are vulnerable or immune-compromised may be present. If a visitor refuses to wear a mask, they may be denied entry. For more information see: Masking Exemptions
- We are asking for the public’s assistance in keeping everyone as safe as possible from COVID-19. Wearing a mask is a very reasonable and easy way to protect others, and is in alignment with the recommendations by the NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer.
- Masking is important for the following reasons:
- COVID-19 can be spread even when you feel healthy. Wearing a mask will help protect others.
- Our care facilities often have people present that are immune-compromised or at higher risk of severe outcomes if they contract COVID-19. By wearing a mask in our facilities you can protect these people.
- You can help protect our vital front-line staff. Staff that work in health and social services are at increased risk because of the volume of people they provide care to. If a healthcare worker contracts COVID-19 or becomes sick, that impacts their ability to work and for patients and clients to receive services.
- Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health Communication: Use of Non-Medical Masks (or Facial Coverings) by the Public (Public Health Agency of Canada)
- When and How to Use Masks (World Health Organization)
- Continuous Masking: Frequently Asked Questions (NTHSSA)
Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority
TEL: 867-767-9107 ext. 40150