Yukon public officials are mandating masks and advising against indoor gatherings to mitigate the second wave of COVID-19.
“We must take these precautions now, so we don’t see case increases exponentially a rapidly throughout the territory,” Premier Sandy Silver said this morning.
“We are at a turning point – it’s time to reset our behaviours and take extra precautions.”
Silver and Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, provided a COVID-19 update.
Beginning Dec. 1, Yukoners will be required to wear non-medical masks in all publicly shared spaces.
Those spaces include stores, community centres, hospitals and service businesses.
The full list of locations requiring masks will be available on the Yukon government website imminently, the premier said.
Children under the age of two and people with medical conditions are exempt from mask-wearing.
People can also remove masks to play sports, to eat and drink in restaurants and while inside the private areas of long-term care homes.
Yukoners should acquire non-medical masks with two to three layers of protective fabric.
Masks should be large enough to protect the nose, mouth and chin, and should allow for easy breathing, the premier said.
Hanley is also recommending a review and tightening of personal social bubbles, which shouldn’t contain more than 15 people.
“This is a time to avoid any indoor social gatherings that do not comprise of your bubble members; keeping to your bubble is absolutely key at this time,” Hanley said.
“Every indoor gathering that we host, every coffee date ... increases our risk of exposure.”
Last week saw a surge of COVID-19 cases in the Yukon. The territory’s total remains at 38 cases today, with 14 active cases associated with two outbreaks and a two-case cluster.
There are also two probable cases awaiting confirmation, Hanley said.
He also confirmed that two cases are in Dawson City. A possible exposure notification was issued for the General Store for between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Nov. 15.
Hanley said he knows the store is “very conscientious” about protocols and he isn’t concerned about circulation of the virus in Dawson.
Additional possible exposure locations were issued in Whitehorse for:
Canadian Tire on Nov. 17 between 8:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.;
Wykes’ Your Independent Grocer on Nov. 17 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.;
Starbucks on Chilkoot Way from Nov. 12 through Nov. 18; and
Tony’s Pasta and Seafood House on Nov. 14 from 5 p.m. to closing time.
There are also exposure notifications for Air North flights on Nov. 7, 8, 9, 12 and 15.
People who visited those locations at the listed times should lay low and monitor for symptoms.
The notification doesn’t mean an organization or business has been closed or currently poses a public health concern, Hanley said.
The drive-thru testing centre, which opened on Sunday at Centennial Motors off the Alaska Highway beside the Airport Chalet, will provide drop-in testing to anyone experiencing symptoms.
The testing centre is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, until Saturday.
Everyone in the vehicle should wear a mask.
The individual seeking a test should write their personal information – name, date of birth and health number – on a sign for the tester to
transcribe, Hanley said.
He acknowledged that the last week has been stressful and emotionally draining for many Yukoners. He noted the territory may see many more cases in the second wave.
“Prepare your mental health for seeing worse before we see better,” Hanley said.