June 03, 2021 | The Canadian Arctic


Weber Arctic's COVID-19 testing program for the 2021 season:

Visiting Arctic Watch & Arctic Haven in Summer 2021: Questions and Answers About COVID-19

As international vaccination programs gain momentum and the world begins to reopen for travel, we at Weber Arctic will be thrilled to welcome guests back to our lodges this summer while also remaining committed to providing the safest possible experience for everyone involved. Although the precise status of the pandemic and related government policies and protocols are fast-changing, we have developed a plan for keeping our guests and staff healthy that we’d like to share with you here. While adjustments may be necessary down the road as circumstances shift, we will make sure you have all the up-to-date information you need before venturing into the spectacular wilds of the Canadian High Arctic.

What should I do before I leave home?

We request that all guests able to get vaccinated please do so. Guests should obtain a (negative) COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who knows they have been exposed to the virus should, of course, not travel.

What will happen when I arrive in Yellowknife?

Everyone will be required to spend the night in Yellowknife and, most likely, to remain at the hotel. In the afternoon or evening, 62 Degrees North Mobile Testing Unit will administer rapid PCR tests to all guests, and the results will be available before the charter flight’s departure in the morning. We ask that guests not mingle upon arrival in Yellowknife, maintain social distancing protocols and wear a mask while we await test results. Anyone with a positive test will not be permitted to board the flight to Arctic Watch or Arctic Haven. To give the mobile testing team sufficient time to administer the test, we recommend arriving in late afternoon or early evening into Yellowknife.

If guests test positive, a second test will be administered to out-rule any errors and need be, local authorities notified. Weber Arctic will do their utmost possible to rebook these guests at a later date but it is the responsibility of all guests to manage their personal health prior to leaving home and while travelling.

We’ve landed at Arctic Watch, and, wow, look at all those beluga whales! Now what?

Congratulations! Feels great to be out in such a stark and pristine landscape, doesn’t it? Just to make sure we can all safely enjoy our time here, everyone will be given one more COVID-19 rapid test soon after arrival. A trained staff member will administer the test using nasal swabs approved for use in Canada. In the event that any guests return positive results, they will self-isolate at Arctic Watch or Arctic Haven for the duration of their trip before traveling back to Yellowknife and continuing to isolate there.

What about the staff members? Are they getting tested, too?

They sure are! Our staff will be tested regularly throughout the summer. They will also arrive at Arctic Watch two weeks before the first guests, effectively quarantining before our season begins. In the event that a staff member tests positive for COVID, he or she will isolate in one of the farthest (and that means far) staff cabins until recovered.

I hate to even mention the possibility, but what happens if somehow I end up getting really sick while at Arctic Watch or Arctic Haven?

Even before COVID-19, we had protocols in place for guests facing health emergencies that still apply. In case of serious illness, we would consult with a doctor via satellite phone, and, if deemed necessary, the guest in question would be medevaced back to Yellowknife. Even though we believe such a situation is unlikely, it’s probably a good idea to check with your travel insurance provider and be sure you know what your policy does and does not cover as far as COVID-related travel interruptions and medevacs. By taking a multi-test PCR approach over numerous days, we’re also effectively lowering the statistical possibility of an inaccurate test.

Okay, well, I don’t love nasal swabs, but I do love spotting wildlife and sitting down to beautiful dinners in the most unlikely places, and I’ve always wanted to drive an ATV along the Northwest Passage. Tell me the truth: is it a good idea to go to the Arctic this year?

Everyone has to make their own personal travel decisions, but we think it’s a great idea! Somerset Island (and the region surrounding Arctic Haven) has no permanent settlements or communities, so we are our own bubble! (Well, us and the muskoxen and the polar bears and the belugas, but they’re all experts at social distancing.) We also believe that after more than a year of keeping each other safe by staying home, the perfect antidote to so much confinement is getting out on the wide-open tundra, feeling the Arctic wind, and celebrating our return to the larger world. Let’s do that together.

We'd like to take a moment to thank both the NWT and Nunavut authorities for their support and careful planning in ensuring tourism can safely return to the Arctic.

We're here to help.

We understand that booking a trip like this is a big endeavour. Please reach out to us with any questions that you might have regarding your upcoming adventure.


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