Whitehorse Daily Star

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A MIRTHFUL MOMENT – Premier Sandy Silver (left) and Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, share a moment of levity Friday afternoon after their COVID-19 press conference. Photo courtesy YUKON GOVERNMENT/ALISTAIR MAITLAND PHOTOGRAPHY

Dining out, personal services on cusp of returns

Personal services and dine-in restaurants will be permitted to reopen this week.

By Gabrielle Plonka on May 25, 2020

Personal services and dine-in restaurants will be permitted to reopen this week.

Starting on Wednesday, hair salons, barber shops, tattoo parlours, nail salons and non-registered massage therapists can begin taking customers.

On Friday, restaurants can provide dine-in services as long as they operate with dining rooms at 50-per-cent seating capacity to enable physical distancing.

Only food-primary restaurants are permitted to reopen – with bars still waiting for the go-ahead.

Child care operators can also return to their pre-pandemic enrolment numbers.

All three types of operations must follow guidelines set out by the Yukon government for each industry. Personal services and restaurants must submit operational plans for approval before receiving the green light to reopen.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, provided this update on Friday afternoon alongside Premier Sandy Silver and Ranj Pillai, the minister of Economic Development (see story below).

Some businesses will be candidates for inspection after their operational plans are approved, by staff of Environmental Health and the territorial workers’ compensation board, Silver said.

“(It’s) to ensure they don’t go through that considerable effort to open, just to find out they may have to change those plans,” Silver said.

“Our intent is to be helpful, not a hindrance.”

Pillai said substantial guidance documents are available for businesses as they formulate their safety plans.

Restaurant guidelines include ensuring physical spacing between customers and asking screening questions so people who are ill do not enter the establishment.

Hanley said that members of household bubbles can sit at tables together when restaurants reopen.

Once businesses throw open their doors, Hanley said, it’s likely that they will not be required to close again if the Yukon sees more cases of COVID-19.

“It’s based on a combination of criteria, but I think it’s continually based on the risk of COVID circulation,” Hanley said.

“We’re not really going to be worried, I’m not going to be worried, if we saw further cases.”

Reclosing businesses would require evidence of more cases than the Yukon has already seen.

“It would be more like if we had a large outbreak, if we had an increased demand on public health services,” Hanley said.

“If we were to see evidence of community spread of COVID, we would have measures that would make us pause or have to go back; we are trying to progress in a way that we don’t have to do that.”

Bars will have to wait a little bit longer than restaurants because they pose a different risk, as people are more likely to congregate in them, Hanley said.

On Friday, the Star reported that Melanie Graham, the owner of Kutters, was concerned that some clients might refuse to follow the new safety rules set by her establishment.

Hanley said businesses have the right to refuse service to customers and should exercise that right with anyone who threatens the safety of other clients and staff.

“I sense that there is going to be a lot of public support for supporting our local businesses and supporting their efforts to comply,” Hanley said.

“Really, the demands placed on the clients are really quite basic; not very demanding.”

The operational plans of these businesses will be checked against a checklist of 18 criteria, Hanley explained.

“It’s quite a systematic plan that is required to address spacing, screening, how many are allowed into the premises,” Hanley said.

Recreational programs will be the next to reopen and should also be forming a COVID-19 plan to be approved by public health officials.

Inspectors are also working with child care operators to determine when they can return to normal licensing capacity.

The Yukon hasn’t seen a new case of COVID-19 in five weeks.

As of Friday, the territory has tested 1,145 people for the virus with 1,129 negative results.

There are only five tests currently pending.

Comments (9)

Up 2 Down 1

Economic disaster on May 30, 2020 at 8:49 pm

@atom, yes there are actually people who have lost their jobs, can’t pay their rent and have to defer that or their mortgage. I realize that no YG, City or any other government employees have lost their jobs during this pandemic. So that takes care of more than 50% of Yukon’s work force. About another 25% work for big box stores or grocery stores. They are still being paid. So lashing out at the 25% or so that are suffering an economic disaster is immature at best. These people see 0 cases for well over a month now and want to get back to work. Border control is the answer as the numbers have shown. NWT, Yukon and Nunavut are in the enviable position of sparse population and limited access by air or road. Of course places like New York and Toronto have many more cases and fatalities. So what you imply is our politicians in the North are much smarter than the ones in the larger cities. Maybe you should holiday in one of those places and see how much harder it is to self isolate.

Up 5 Down 7

Atom on May 29, 2020 at 2:23 pm

Anyone whining about the shutdown should head to New York...have a grand holiday.

Up 31 Down 9

My Opinion on May 26, 2020 at 8:23 pm

“We’re not really going to be worried, I’m not going to be worried, if we saw further cases.”
"Reclosing businesses would require evidence of more cases than the Yukon has already seen."
“It would be more like if we had a large outbreak, if we had an increased demand on public health services,” Hanley said.

OK, so then based on that I guess it was a BIG MISTAKE destroying these small businesses in the first place. What a Circus. Such strong restrictions put on small businesses while leaving all Big Boxes up and running. Yep.

Up 9 Down 1

JC on May 26, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Mathew. This is the first time I ever saw Silvers without a frown on his face.

Up 22 Down 9

Of course on May 26, 2020 at 8:37 am

"Child care operators can also return to their pre-pandemic enrolment numbers."

Yup, people are officially sick of their kids and social distancing can be waived to get them out of the house again. I'd probably feel that way, too, if i had kids.

Up 35 Down 7

Kenn Roberts on May 25, 2020 at 8:10 pm

Common sense, now focus on the travelers, border to border, look at all the plates from the U.S. at grocery stores, they should be approached... as they are not following the corridor rules, only takes one, two, maybe three to get a spike ... Un symtomatic Peeps.. Shopping....

Up 13 Down 24

One One-Lesser-Voice on May 25, 2020 at 6:58 pm

The City is planning to reopen the CGC which is nice.
It would be nice if the CGC and large city parks were managed by GY. They are doing a good job of protecting us from covid btw.

Seems like the City cannot protect areas and is too close to some associations and gives too much away to them without any thought.
They create biking trails in alpine areas once used by caribou and wonder why there are so many bear encounters, it makes you wonder if there is no biologist advising the city.

Up 12 Down 15

JC on May 25, 2020 at 6:03 pm

Well, I guess Dr. Hanley and Premier Silvers have been reading the comments in the Star. Congrats on the decision. Now maybe the Yukon can get back to sanity.

Up 37 Down 20

Matthew on May 25, 2020 at 5:37 pm

Why is it that every time I see these 2 (Hanley and Silver) they're grinning ear to ear... probably because they're still making their very healthy pay cheque..

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