Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

PROVIDING THE LATEST – Premier Sandy Silver (left), Mary Tiesen, the Yukon government’s American sign language interpreter, and Dr. Brendan Hanley are seen at this morning’s weekly COVID-19 media briefing.

Masks take effect, but potential enforcement downplayed

Today marks the first day that masks are mandatory in the Yukon, but enforcement will be a last resort.

By Tim Giilck on December 1, 2020

Revised - Tuesday marked the first day that masks became mandatory in the Yukon, but enforcement will be a last resort.

There were no new cases announced during that morning’s weekly COVID-19 briefing by Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer of health.

Yukon case counts are at 47, with the addition of one new case confirmed Monday.

Seventeen of those cases are active. Two patients are hospitalized, but their conditions were not released.

As of Tuesday, 5,336 people had been tested for the virus. Between Nov. 23 and last Sunday, 632 people were tested at the stationary and drive-thru testing locations in Whitehorse.

Cases have doubled in the last three weeks, Hanley said, which is not surprising.

There is no definite sign of community transmission as yet, but medical officials are still closely monitoring that situation.

“We have outbreaks going on with a sharp increase in numbers,” Hanley said.

Many of the recent cases have been traced to known or suspected sources. Many of them, Hanley said, involve work-place exposure.

He reiterated that’s why it’s crucial to closely follow the Safe Six protocols, follow the mask regulations, and to keep strictly to social bubbles.

Hanley also made a plea to employers to allow as many workers as possible and feasible to work from their residences to mitigate exposure.

“Please work from home where possible,” he said.

Hanley also stressed that if anyone has any symptoms, even something as mild as a runny nose, to stay home and not risk spreading the virus.

“People should not be compelled to work when they are sick,” he said.

As far as the mandatory mask regulations go, Hanley and Premier Sandy Silver acknowledged there will be a learning curve, and it will take some time for masking to become habit for the public.

“The evidence grows more compelling by the week that masks offer one more layer of protection,” Dr. Hanley said, while not making any specific reference to studies. “Masks are an additional protection, not a substitute.”

Three-layer non-medical masks are ideal, but two-layer masks are fine, he said.

Hanley said he was impressed at how well the public was already doing with adopting masks even without the mandatory order.

During a walk downtown on Monday, he noted almost everyone was wearing them.

The masks are to be worn in every indoor public common area.

That includes stores, restaurants and other businesses, and less obvious locations such as public washrooms, stairways, lobbies and elevators – anywhere you could encounter another person in an area accessible to the public at large.

Workplace employees who do not serve the general public do not fall under the masking policy.

Masks are not mandatory for walking along sidewalks, though many pedestrians are wearing them outdoors regardless.

According to a list the government released Tuesday, the public spaces where masks apply include retail businesses, shopping centres, coffee shops, grocery stores, service businesss, airport; personal care services, restaurants, bars and anywhere food and drink are served, health care providers’ offices, places of worship, recreational areas, fitness centres, dance or yoga studios, arenas, movie theatres, art centres, concert halls, libraries, conference and community centres, common areas of office buildings, courthouses, hospitals, daycares, hotels, common areas of Yukon University and non-profit organizations; and on public transportation, in a taxi, shuttle or ride-sharing vehicle.

When in an indoor space, masks may be temporarily removed if you are consuming food or beverages, participating in a sport or fitness activity or receiving personal care or health services that require the mask to be removed.

Schools are not considered a public place; however, school staff and students age 10 and older are required to wear a non-medical mask on the school bus and in school commons areas.

On Tuesday afternoon, Community Services Minister John Streicker told the legislature 200,000 masks will be made available to the public.

There are mask exemptions for people with medical conditions, such as breathing problems.

Mental health issues, such as claustrophobia, that could make wearing a mask uncomfortable or unbearable, are also on the list of exemptions.

Students 10 years old and older are expected to wear masks in common areas as well.

For the time being, the emphasis will be placed on education and encouraging people to wear masks, Hanley said.

Enforcement provisions are available for use under the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA), including a $500 fine for failing to don one, refusing to leave a public space where masks are required, or engaging in abusive or belligerent behavior. Fines will be a last resort, however.

“We’re not running after everyone on the first day,” Hanley said.

“Give us a chance to adjust. There is some habit-forming to happen.”

Both he and Silver acknowledged obligatory masking will likely breed some resistance and opposition, but they are hopeful most people will comply.

“We were falling into complacency,” Hanley said. “We’re not going into a shutdown phase, as we did eight months ago, but there is no further room for diminishing the threat.

“We are continually striving for the best balance, but we want to contain COVID to prevent community transmission. For the next few weeks, we really need to hunker down.”

The good news is that both Santa Claus and everyone’s Elf on the Shelf have been officially granted essential worker status so they can go about their jobs, Hanley and Silver said.

That will make many people happy, with Christmas 23 days away.

As of Monday, the government had received 1,079 COVID-related complaints:

• failure to self-isolate: 630;

• gatherings over 10 inside or 50 outside: 28;

• failure to transit through the Yukon in 24 hours or stay on the designated route: 392;

• businesses failing to comply with orders: 11; and

• failure to abide by a declaration form or not permitted entry into the Yukon: 18

There have been a total of 26 people charged, and 21 people charged under the CEMA.

A total of 64,061 travellers have come into Yukon since the pandemic began:

• resident travellers: 16,910;

• B.C. residents: 15,195;

• N.W.T. residents: 486;

• other approved jurisdictions: 303;

• non-residents staying: 10,391;

• non-residents transiting: 20,677; and

• other: 99.

There have been 348 decals distributed indicating out-of-territory vehicles permitted to be in the Yukon.

Comments (27)

Up 4 Down 8

Josey Wales on Dec 6, 2020 at 6:16 am

Hey EJ...true that but, since team red is ruling us makes sense.
Team blue? Gotta say there really is none, more like Liberal lite...yes I just said that. That Liberal lite in team blue goes national too.
I am old enough to remember the original, our PM's alleged dad.
Whilst I remember Castro too,
...and today, that is all I will say about that.
The National Destruction Party? "Come on man" swamp creature Joe
Hope that clears things up EJ, please...carry on.

OJW PSA Having a state actor tell you "we are all in this together" is pure propaganda - we are not. In totalitarians of yesteryear, might replace "work sets you free"....Arbeit macht frei in the totalitarian tactics play book?

Oddly enough, both socialist state "motivators for mandated cooperation" clic clic
Oh yeah, read the "Order" from our former civic blowhole.
There is a mask exemption, for addressing the media...so they can regurgitate the message to us "commoners" or "peasants" clearly...Too funny.

Up 16 Down 8

Wes on Dec 5, 2020 at 6:53 am

As a placer miner, I end up doing a lot of welding on blades and buckets. Build up work etc. I spend a lot of time in particulate masks in awkward positions and hot weather. It’s not the best, but it helps protect my health.
Wear a mask. It’s not a big deal.

Up 10 Down 10

EJ on Dec 4, 2020 at 10:19 pm

Hey Josey, it's funny how you go on a tirade against Liberals even though the conservatives and NDP supported this as well. Currie Dixon was even on the radio yesterday saying he supported the mask stuff. Perhaps you have a bit of a Liberal Derangement Syndrome? You seem to be mildly obsessed in your posts.

Up 13 Down 4

DMZ on Dec 4, 2020 at 1:27 pm

@Brent, I totally agree. What's missing is the reminders that these are temporary measures. I'll do anything for a little while, but all the people, including doctors, getting carried away and saying, we should make masks part of our lives going forward, that really does my head in. You really put your finger on it.

Biden is very smart to put it that way. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

Up 12 Down 9

Brent on Dec 4, 2020 at 6:30 am

All the good Dr. needs to do is announce a finite time span for the mask wearing with a start date which has already happened and a finish date just like in the good ol' US with the President elect Joe Biden. This will eliminate all these fanciful claims of attack on liberty and freedom by unseen heroes that will claim to die on the sword to protect those rights. Brave new world.

Up 16 Down 10

Josey Wales on Dec 3, 2020 at 9:37 pm

Today in Liberal logic, more accurately YLP..
Public schools are not public places. Genius Gaslighting skills.

Mask up, OBEY the LPC & YLP need us, all to live? Unless you have other issues that are "yours" one has a 99.2% recovery rate despite the fear campaign so well choreographed.

Germs, Germs, Germs, fear, fear, fear, oh what fun it is to live in a socialist state today ...HEY!
sing along to the melody of jingle Bells. It helps context.
ironic really that public schools are not public, as it is the home of gaslighting.

gerund or present participle: gaslighting
manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

noun...a form of mental abuse in which someone persuades another person that things they think are true or real are not, making them fear they are going mad
Gaslighting is one of the most extreme, dangerous and effective forms of emotional and psychological abuse.

Up 31 Down 14

Yukoner '71 on Dec 3, 2020 at 10:56 am

Al, an apt comparison to todays left wing Canadian governments and society is to be made with Star Treks Borg collective idea. You will be assimilated, resistance is futile and there are no individuals. You are to behave as a mindless drone with no voice or will of your own. The government collective will do your thinking for you and unquestionably decide what's best for you.

Up 41 Down 13

Al on Dec 3, 2020 at 10:05 am

It saddens me to see the government endorsing and urging folks to squeal on their neighbours, turning them in, rooting them out. It bothers me more that people are so easily swayed to do such a thing. It is not OK.

This is what led to the brown shirts and other despots in the past and even today. This is how civil liberties disappear. This is how are freedoms start to erode. This is how we lose our freedoms. This is what brings about tyranny. What a terrible road we are heading down when we as a society encourage this type of behaviour. You seem to think this is OK. If you do, you really, really need to take a long hard look around the world today and in the past to see the results.

Up 32 Down 17

Donovan on Dec 3, 2020 at 6:11 am

More useless and unproven measures being enforced by an UN-ELECTED official. Again we the people have given up our rights to a Doctor that was never elected to his position and has no oversight except for his political Masters. The roll of public health officer needs to become an elected position, full stop. This Doctor is not following the will of the people he is supposed to serve, just Mr. Silvers orders are followed ( again against the will of the people,) I for one can't wait until the election when Mr. Silver and Ms. Frost are put out to pasture.

Up 28 Down 16

Dave on Dec 3, 2020 at 5:20 am

@John. I more than agree with you. A piece of cloth over someone’s mouth does nothing to stop viruses or bacteria which pass through unobstructed. If someone encounters Coronavirus in the air they will be as exposed to it as before yet people will in all likelihood let their guard down somewhat because these non medical masks are a false visual indicator of ‘safety’.

Up 15 Down 16

EJ on Dec 2, 2020 at 8:47 pm

Hey JC,
if the Liberals are just trying to control everyone through mask use as you say, why did the Yukon Party support them? The Yukon Party is actually just Yukon's Conservatives, so it doesn't make much sense for them to support the Liberals and their mask use does it?

Up 17 Down 11

JC on Dec 2, 2020 at 4:07 pm

Motive Unclear: Most people would go nuts living under your suggestion. People need people, they need to be free. Not holed up in their own dens for months like a animal. At least animals sleep during their months of hibernation. It might work for some people. No, Motive, it's not the answer. You try it. And ordering 6 months of alcohol and drugs? Do the math dude.

Up 30 Down 9

Crunch on Dec 2, 2020 at 12:33 pm

It is increasingly obvious that the governments role here is staving off liability. When people die there is always family members who are looking for someone to sue. The trial run was the Sars episode where the Fed settled the cases out of court and kept it out of public view. When this one came knocking they had no alternative but to jump in with both feet, trying to get the provinces to do the same who were mired in debt, privatization and scandal. The political blame game is running hard and this will not end well for Canada. As for the rest of us we have but one choice and that is to stay home.

Up 18 Down 29

Wilf Carter on Dec 2, 2020 at 11:24 am

Hopefully by late fall we will have had the vaccine to protect us from the total harm of CV19.

Up 29 Down 39

John on Dec 2, 2020 at 8:31 am

So we’ll wear a mask to please the sheeple who have bought into this and we’ll watch people wearing “ non-medical” masks meaning, not certified el cheapo homemade or paper masks that don't fit well, stand face to face and ignore the basic safety protocols because they feel “ safe” wearing a mask. Just look around.

Up 37 Down 34

Ali on Dec 2, 2020 at 7:12 am

I hate how people go on about fear, as if taking preventive measures is some panic response. "Did you put on your seat belt today? Wow living in fear much?"

Up 31 Down 48

Moose on Dec 1, 2020 at 8:35 pm

Nice to see the Yukon Party conservatives and the NDP supporting the government mandatory mask order. It goes to show there really is no debate as to whether or not they are effective. Thank you Currie Dixon and Kate White!

Up 33 Down 24

Juniper Jackson on Dec 1, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Well said Max. But a complete waste of breath. Just as mask wearers will spit out 500 URLs that support masks, an antimasker, (me) will spit out 500 URLs that say masks are useless. Hanley, in particular, being the head coach as it were, will never back down. People don't like to lose "face". (a good pun I thought).

Like it or not, it is the law now, and it will be enforced to the fullest extent of any law that can conceivably be put into Emergency Measures. We just will not hear about it. How many people have been fined? and for how much? for not isolating? or for some other infraction in the EM Act? Not to have a mask on now will be treated akin to murder. Last murderer got 4 years I believe. So many people so willingly gave up all their freedoms..every last one.. I never thought showing my face would constitute crime. But.. there it is.

Up 32 Down 19

Josey Wales on Dec 1, 2020 at 5:28 pm

hmm..are they not "providing " us a service via information?
Funny that... our overlords are NOT masked up doing so?

Nor is the sign lady, also providing a service?
They are not even trying to pretend, but we should...?

Up 38 Down 24

motive unclear on Dec 1, 2020 at 5:25 pm

Hi everyone! I have a suggestion: If you are truly fearful of catching the bug, or of even of sharing the bug, then perhaps this will help: If at all possible, why not consider buying 6 months worth of groceries. Calculate what you will need and have it brought to your car or your home. Totally stay out of every business and every government office and every building except for your own home. I mean, seriously, if this thing is as deadly as they say, should any of us go anywhere?
Fruit can be sliced and dried, dairy products can be frozen, vegetables last months in the fridge. Learn to bake, pick up some new skills! And hopefully, in 6 months the CNN will find some new horror to hype to death.
Just an idea. And thank you to our very own Dr Fauci for delaying the 500 slave coupon fines for a bit. How thoughtful can you get? Looking forward to the next "measures"!

Up 45 Down 19

Tristen on Dec 1, 2020 at 4:50 pm

"The evidence grows more compelling by the week that masks offer one more layer of protection,” Dr. Hanley said, while not making any specific reference to studies.

That's because he has no references, or understands the references are flimsy and overshadowed by the body of evidence and studies to the contrary.
Brendan cannot or is unwilling explain himself to Yukoners like adults at this point. What a joke. Zero trust.

Up 42 Down 18

Charles on Dec 1, 2020 at 4:41 pm

I for one just like to see slippery Sandy and the good Doc wear a Mask, or pretend to wear one, at those Photo-ops.
Lead by example, it's called.
Typical: Drink Wine, preach Water.

Up 38 Down 19

North_of_60 on Dec 1, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Max Mack is correct. The govt and CMO are providing no medical evidence to substantiate their mandatory mask regulation. Let's see some evidence.

Actual medical science says masks are ineffective to stop virons like Covid.
An overview of the current evidence regarding the effectiveness of face masks. https://swprs.org/face-masks-evidence/
1. Studies on the effectiveness of face masks.
So far, most studies found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks in the general population, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.

The Safe 6 are valid measures, masks should be voluntary, not mandatory.
I see a lot of people fiddling with their masks with filthy fingers, transmitting germs to their warm moist mask where they grow and are breathed in. The problem with masks is that they give a false sense of protection and cause people to ignore hand hygiene which is the most effective way to stop the spread of viral infections.

Up 42 Down 17

JC on Dec 1, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Also, I guess from now on, criminal enforcement will take second to mask and distancing policing. Justin Trudeau's "Great Reset" is coming to your neighbourhoods folks. So suck it up! It's been said, "Almost any behaviour will begin to look normal, if you are subjected to enough of it".

Up 44 Down 19

JC on Dec 1, 2020 at 3:56 pm

Sandy Silvers: "There will be a learning curve, and it will take some time for masking to become a habit for the Yukon". That's Liberal government code for, "it will take time for us to get the citizens under complete control".

Up 44 Down 20

Matthew on Dec 1, 2020 at 3:40 pm

It starts with the masks folks.. It's just the beginning. When you give power to people (government's) they very rarely give it back! Why are they all of a sudden so concerned about your health!? Which by the way is YOUR responsibility..

Up 62 Down 41

Max Mack on Dec 1, 2020 at 2:46 pm

"The evidence grows more compelling by the week that masks offer one more layer of protection,”
Really, Dr. Hanley? How many of those studies involved RCTs of mask-wearing in a non-healthcare setting involving real people? That "evidence" you seem to prefer over real science includes particle studies and mechanical studies and studies of mask effectiveness in artificial circumstances and non-human trials or observational "evidence".

In the real world, people wear ill-fitting masks of ill-fitting design in uncontrolled environments and are CONSTANTLY touching and adjusting their masks without practicing good hygiene, reusing masks, soiling masks through prolonged use, all the while jeopardizing their own health by breathing elevated levels of CO2 and bacteria, viruses and fungi, etc.

Provide the evidence that you consider so compelling and why this has more weight that all of the RCTs that have concluded that mask-wearing is ineffective in a non-healthcare setting.

Please tell me how research funded by Bill Gates, his proxies and large pharmaceuticals through the WHO and other "scientific bodies" is impartial and how this research outweighs the numerous RCTs that show exactly the opposite of what you are claiming.

You claim to be an expert. Provide the evidence.

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