Yukon declares state of emergency over COVID-19

November 9, 2021
Yukon declares state of emergency over COVID-19

The Yukon government has declared a state of emergency, announcing new health regulations aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, including a proof-of-vaccination requirement set to take effect on Saturday.

The declaration came after the territory reported 80 new COVID-19 infections diagnosed over a three-day period between Friday and Monday, for a total of 169 active cases.

The territory says it is moving rapidly to implement a proof-of-vaccination system for a range of settings, including restaurants, ticketed events, fitness facilities and personal services businesses, as well as faith-based and cultural gatherings.

It says the new measures also include mandatory masks in all indoor public settings and outdoor public settings where physical distancing isn’t possible, as well as capacity limits on different types of indoor and outdoor gatherings.

“We are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 in the territory and we need to take immediate action to protect the health and safety of Yukoners,” said Premier Sandy Silver in a news release.

While the rules will be enforced starting Nov. 13, the territory said in a statement that Yukoners are “strongly encouraged” to adopt the measures immediately.

It said Yukon’s top doctor has recommended avoiding travel between communities, and while schools can remain open, students should wear masks at their desks.

Starting Saturday, under the new health rules, personal gatherings will be limited to two households when everyone is vaccinated and one household if anyone is unvaccinated.

New capacity limits for gatherings

Organized gatherings, such as conferences and weddings, will be limited to 25 people with proof of vaccination for events held indoors, while up to 50 people may gather outdoors.

Ticketed events with seating, as well as faith-based and cultural gatherings, will be limited to 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity with proof of vaccination required.

People must also show proof of vaccination for table service at bars, restaurants and nightclubs with a limit of six people per table and no moving between tables.

At gyms and fitness studios, high-intensity classes will be suspended and proof of vaccination will be required for low-intensity classes and organized sports.

The government said it was implementing the new measures — which will be in place until at least Dec. 3 — based on the recommendation of the territory’s acting chief medical officer of health, Dr. Catherine Elliott.

Elliott said Yukoners need to pull together to “prevent severe illness from COVID-19 and protect our health care system.”

80 new cases since Friday

Earlier Monday evening, Yukon health officials reported 80 new cases of COVID-19 across the territory since Friday and declared an outbreak at École Whitehorse Elementary School.

The government said it was opening a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility Wednesday in the wash bay at Centennial Motors, at 91628 Alaska Highway in Whitehorse, to help meet the demand. The facility will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week, including Nov. 11.

In the release, Elliott said the outbreak at École Whitehorse Elementary School is confined to the Grade 4-5 split class and that all other students who are not affected by the exposure notice should continue going to school.

Of the 169 active cases in the territory, 132 are Whitehorse residents, 20 are from Carmacks, four are from Carcross and there is one each in Burwash Landing, Pelly Crossing and Teslin.

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