North: Diamond mines exempt from coronavirus travel restrictions due to economic importance – by Richard Gleeson (CBC News North – April 22, 2020)

A glaring exception to travel restrictions placed on those entering the Northwest Territories during the COVID-19 pandemic is the one made for workers at the territory’s three diamond mines.

At the mines, people from the N.W.T. work alongside those from provinces where there have been far more confirmed cases of the highly contagious respiratory disease. None of the workers from outside the N.W.T. are required to self-isolate for two weeks like most others arriving in the territory.

In an email, the territories’ chief public health officer said the mines are allowed to continue operating because of the huge role they play in the N.W.T.’s economy.

“The goods produced may be a luxury, but the jobs they provide and impacts on families and communities are very real and important,” said Dr. Kami Kandola. “More people die and get sick if they do not have work.”

On March 20 the territorial government announced a travel ban into the N.W.T. that excluded mine workers. It was not until April 10 that Kandola introduced requirements aimed at preventing the arrival and spread of COVID-19 at the mines.

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