Phase two of the Yukon government’s reopening plan launched Wednesday with several changes to border control measures.
“We are in a much better position than we thought we would be just a few weeks ago,” Premier Sandy Silver told a media briefing Tuesday afternoon.
“We remain flexible and responsive to the situation – which is changing daily – but we are confident we’re in a good position now to lift our borders (Wednesday).”
Residents of B.C., the N.W.T. and Nunavut can now enter the territory and move freely without self-isolating upon arrival.
Visitors from these three jurisdictions must provide proof of residency when they enter the territory.
They must also confirm they haven’t been outside the four authorized jurisdictions in the last 14 days.
All remaining Canadian residents are now permitted to enter the territory, but must self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving if they are not travelling from B.C., the N.W.T. and Nunavut.
Self-isolation must occur in Whitehorse.
Residents of the N.W.T. and Nunavut must also self-isolate if they flew into the Yukon with a layover outside B.C.
Exemptions to the self-isolation rule will be made for critical workers and individuals transiting through the Yukon.
Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, said opening the border poses a necessary risk.
He explained that the impact of closed borders is too severe, and the epidemiology of the virus in the three authorized jurisdictions means the risk is low.
“To be completely honest, I’m nervous myself about the weeks ahead of us,” Hanley said.
“This move is not without risk, but we need to be very clear that keeping the doors closed is also high risk and clearly not sustainable.”
The Yukon government is facing a petition filed with the Yukon Supreme Court. The petition, filed last month, seeks a declaration that the border closure violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The case will not be withdrawn since the border has reopened, one petitioner told the Star Thursday.
The premier denied any connection between the petition and the decision to open the border to the rest of Canada.
“They’re two unrelated situations, but I will say every decision we make takes into account the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Silver said.
The self-isolation rules have been successful in the Yukon, so far, he added.
He noted that 17,000 travellers have passed through the territory since April 2, and half of those were travelling to Alaska. The Yukon hasn’t seen a new case of COVID-19 since April 20.
The government also announced in a press release on Tuesday that face masks are now required at all Yukon airports, in response to the expected increase in airport traffic.
Other changes in effect for phase two include an increase to 50 people permitted at outdoor gatherings.
Restaurants can also operate at greater than 50 per cent capacity if possible with physical distancing maintained.