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GRADUAL REOPENING ANNOUNCED – Mary Tiesen, the Yukon government’s American sign language interpreter, Premier Sandy Silver and Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, are seen left to right at last Friday afternoon’s COVID-19 news conference. Photo courtesy YUKON GOVERNMENT/ALISTAIR MAITLAND PHOTOGRAPHY

Phased reopening has no specific timelines

The Yukon has unveiled a four-stage plan for relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

By Gabrielle Plonka on May 19, 2020

The Yukon has unveiled a four-stage plan for relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

“The social and economic hardships of this pandemic are undeniable,” says a report released last Friday afternoon.

“We recognize the strain that this has placed on our mental health, personal well-being, our families, our communities, our businesses and our way of life in the Yukon.”

The Yukon government’s 44-page plan is called A Path Forward.

It divides the Yukon’s stages of relaxing restrictions into four phases.

Up until last Friday, the Yukon was in “phase zero” of reopening, reporters were told. The fourth and final phase will take place after a vaccine for COVID-19 is available.

The plan says that in the event that a vaccine does not become available, an alternative public health approach would be required.

The first phase was launched by the Yukon government last Friday and involves the gradual loosening of public health measures affecting businesses, services, recreation and entertainment.

There is a list of criteria required before moving into phase two.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, said last Friday the transition into phase two could take between weeks and months. It depends on the success of the first phase, combined with the state of the pandemic outside the territory.

To move into phase two, the Yukon needs to maintain testing turnaround time and see a continued downward trend of the pandemic in Canada with a focus on B.C., Alaska, Alberta and the N.W.T.

There must also be adequate supply of personal protective equipment, low to no COVID-19 cases in hospitals and a limited number of imported cases and case clusters.

Hanley said these criteria will be used to gauge the safety of moving forward, but are not set in stone.

“It’s difficult to be very precise about this,” Hanley said.

“It could be different combinations of these factors that would lead us to hold tight, to stay where we are until we get more stability, more confidence.”

If a major outbreak occurs in a nearby province, for example, Hanley said his office would look at that situation carefully to assess whether it should affect reopening in the Yukon.

He added that there is some expectation that more COVID-19 cases will appear in the territory, and there need to be adequate public health measures to treat new clusters.

Phase two, or the recovery phase, will include the expansion of permitted personal care, health care and recreation services. Outdoor gatherings of 50 people or fewer may be permitted, as well as overnight summer camps for children.

There will also be more exceptions allowed for non-essential travellers into the territory. Travel directions within the territory will also be eased through phases one and two.

Last Friday, Premier Sandy Silver said Yukoners are expected to use their best judgment before travelling into rural communities.

“We ask Yukoners to move around a bit more but we’re not going to … throw the door wide open,” Silver said.

“It’s not a time to hang out on Main Street in those communities if you’re not from there.”

In phase two, the chief medical officer will begin to assess the opening of elementary and secondary schools.

This consideration will continue into phase three, and will be done in collaboration with the Department of Education.

The criteria required to enter phase three, or the “new normal,” are nearly identical to the criteria for moving into phase two, and require continued public health capacity and low number of cases.

Phase three will involve the gradual lift of border controls and no size restrictions for gatherings, as long as there is capacity for physical distancing.

Most businesses and services will be fully operational with more relaxed public health measures in place during phase three.

The Yukon will remain in phase three until a vaccine, or an alternative public health measure, is available.

There are several restrictions that may be relaxed in phases one, two or three according to Hanley.

These include the reopening of bars, dental care, religious services, funerals and visitation at hospitals and long-term care facilities.

It’s possible that if an outbreak occurs, the Yukon would move backward through the phases and more restrictions would be implemented.

Hanley noted last Friday that it’s a two-way street, but said it’s unlikely the Yukon will have to reimplement any restrictions.

The plan notes that the Yukon has among the lowest rate of COVID-19 infection in Canada, with only one per cent of people tested found to have the disease.

Two per cent of the Yukon’s population was tested for COVID-19.

The plan also lists the 17 funding initiatives launched by the Yukon government during the pandemic, with a total estimated price tag of $27.6 million.

The most costly of these is the $10-million Yukon business relief program; $6.2 million sick-leave provision rebate; and $3.5 million event reimbursement program.

Comments (31)

Up 0 Down 1

Wes on May 25, 2020 at 6:52 pm

For all you freedom loving folks who would refuse to get a vaccine if/when it becomes available, I have a great idea how you could prove your freedom; opt out of medicare if you contract C-19!
I mean, it's a hoax, right, so just sign on the dotted line and if you contracted C-19, just tough it out.

Up 0 Down 1

BnR on May 25, 2020 at 6:26 pm

Shake the tree and the nuts fall out of it.
Good grief, anti vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, but a dearth of responsible citizens.

Up 22 Down 13

iBrian on May 22, 2020 at 6:10 am

Seeing as I haven’t had a vaccine since 2001, I highly doubt I will be lining up to get one for this Covid19.
And I haven’t been sick very many times since then.
I mean, I have called into work cause I was hung over. But that was self induced.
I respect those who wish to follow the dr’s orders.
But, I won’t be subscribing to getting this Vaccine.
I have little patience left for our current government, and CMO.

Up 17 Down 8

My Two Cents on May 21, 2020 at 6:03 pm

Close the borders to non-essential traffic (eg: people going to Alaska). We have no cases here, keep it that way. Let's get going so that people can get back to some sort of normalcy.
Need some effective leadership here.

Up 37 Down 7

brian on May 21, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Mr.M... there was no real first wave (11 cases and no one in the hospital) up here so how can there be a second?? It doesn't take an expert to realize that there is more to this virus than we fully know about. The nice thing about being so isolated is if Covid-19 does hit us hard we have the ability to lock down quickly. Until that time comes(if ever) let people live they're lives and try to be happy.

Up 24 Down 16

Mr M on May 21, 2020 at 9:02 am

Really the amount of people downtown and driving is anyone really doing much work from home? The gym is open WTF. There are people that are taking this seriously and those that aren't. Open up everything and when more people start getting sick again (2nd wave) maybe people will take it serious. We all or I should say some that work full time will be paying for this for a long, long time.

Up 30 Down 7

Lost In the Yukon on May 20, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Starting to wonder about Hanley’s “plan” ... he seems to be really saying that we will have to follow his rules until a vaccine is available. The Pentagon had a memo released today that suggested one may not be seen until the summer of 2021 (and that was optimistic) ... in the same article Dr. Fauci is quoted as saying “ Fauci told NBC News last month that a vaccine by January may be "doable" if "things fall in the right place."

"Remember, go back in time, I was saying in January and February that it would be a year to 18 months, so January is a year, so it isn't that much from what I had originally said," Fauci said, though he acknowledged the timeline was "aspirational."

"There's no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective," he added. "You can have everything you think that's in place, and you don't induce the kind of immune response that turns out to be protective and durably protective."

So ... if the leading expert is suggesting that a vaccine even if developed may not be effective ... and Hanley is saying nothing will really change until one is ... then what the hell! Are we going to be under Hanley’s Emergency Measures for who knows for how long?

Not referencing Slippery Sandy Silver because he has essentially endorsed / turned over leadership to Hanley because it serves his purpose of sidelining the Opposition and Third Party thus avoiding accountability for his actions ...

Up 27 Down 2

DMZ on May 20, 2020 at 8:00 pm

They might be following the provinces' template, but I don't think any of those plans say definitively that this is our life till a vaccine is found. Every day you turn on the news and they say that might not happen, and if it does, it might not be for years. Trudeau is saying vaccine or treatment. I don't think anything has discouraged me as much as Hanley saying that. And by the way, their timidity on this is not inspiring confidence. I feel like it's inevitable that with one hospitalization, they will turn on the gas and bring in the Army. They were supposed to be using the time we spent at home to beef up their medical services. Instead they seem to think it's a lot more comfortable for them if we're just restricted and controlled indefinitely or "till there's a vaccine". Good luck with the depressed population you're cultivating.

Up 25 Down 3

JC on May 20, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Jeffrey White. I just wish I had a face mask to put away. Silvers and Hanley are shutting down the territory telling us to stay home etc., but won't see that we have masks to wear to protect ourselves. Been checking all the stores since this hoax started and still nothing. That's why they don't want anybody to go anywhere - no masks and they aren't going to supply them. So, listen up folks, if the government won't see that we have protective equipment, they have no right telling us what to do. So, just go out and enjoy yourselves. You know as well as I, summer is short in the Yukon.

Up 36 Down 11

Max Mack on May 20, 2020 at 1:52 pm

Wait for a vaccine? Given that we have a high failure rate with coronavirus vaccines, and that this virus has probably already mutated into several strains, I say good luck with that.

p.s Why not allow the population to develop natural immunity?

Up 21 Down 5

Groucho d'North on May 20, 2020 at 12:36 pm

Plan your work and work your plan...or you can just make it up as you go along. Which do you think will produce the best results?

Up 27 Down 2

Darrell Drugstore's smartest neighbour on May 20, 2020 at 12:27 pm

B.C. plus 2 weeks are the YT's timelines - not hard to see.

Up 49 Down 8

cclm on May 20, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Right now there has not been a single case in the Yukon for over 3 weeks. There have been zero admissions to the hospital ever. The borders are (supposedly) closed to all except a few entries with strict orders to pass through on the highway in 24 hours or quarantine for 2 weeks.

If NOW is not the time to lift restrictions FOR YUKONERS WHO HAVE STAYED IN THE YUKON, then when the H is 'The Time'?!
I am getting so fed up.

Keep the outsiders out, and those of us who are in here should be 100% completely safe going to a campground, getting our hair done, going to the dentist, chiropractor, a bar or restaurant, etc.

Ontario and all the other provinces are opening up while we, with zero cases, hide out?! What kind of leadership have we got here? Not to mention you closing down the legislature so there is no debate or accountability for what is going on in these extraordinary times (when we need accountability more than ever).
I am a card carrying Liberal (Yukon) member, and I am really fed up.

Up 23 Down 19

Douglas Martens on May 20, 2020 at 9:24 am

The wildlife is all about these days, doing their wildlife: bears grazing in the ditches, squirrels chasing each other, geese flying north, schools of fish swarming, and the funniest thing about it is, none that I have seen are wearing masks, gloves or social distancing and yet all appear healthy and vibrant! Perhaps they are not filling their little heads full of alphabet media propaganda day and night?

Up 21 Down 22

Jeffrey White on May 20, 2020 at 1:32 am

There seems to be clear differences between what people are expecting as outcomes between locals with small businesses and what expert medical professionals on top TV channels say. Some locals are looking at this like we've gotten past the initial surge of the virus nationally and that's it. The medical experts without exception warn of a second more deadly surge coming in the fall which is only months away.
Don't put your face masks away too soon because we've had a picnic so far.

Up 31 Down 11

Wilf Carter on May 19, 2020 at 11:23 pm

What I find interesting in Yukon Party ridings is liberals are keeping business closed on Alaska highway like in Watson Lake and Haines Junction. If you drive to Watson Lake you will have no place to stay and will have to sleep in your car. Great for kids and seniors.

Up 23 Down 11

Heart on May 19, 2020 at 9:46 pm

The Yukon will remain in phase three until a vaccine, or an alternative public health measure, is available....

Let's remember Vaccines aren't safe or effective especially when fast tracked in less than 18 months? Bill himself says they aren't even done in 5 years ....don't give up our soul
Who's paying all the Medical Health officers for the repetitive narrative and waiting on directives from more $$ cronies w bigger Agendas than any Yukoner cares.

Yukon is the simple life.
Not micro chip Id 2020
Fake immunity with a vaccine

God bless Us All

Up 32 Down 8

Jordan on May 19, 2020 at 9:19 pm

I’ll take the vaccine when I see Hanley and Silver and their families inject themselves with it right in front of me. This is a Trojan horse, people - you’re not quarantined (a word defines as for sick people, not for detaining the well- being misused.. for brainwashing) you are imprisoned.

Up 35 Down 10

JC on May 19, 2020 at 8:57 pm

Notice there is no time line between phases. Dr. Hanley and Premier Silvers seem to be totally dumb on this issue, which tells me they are just playing it by ear - meaning watch what the other premiers are doing and just follow along. Listen up Dr. and Premier, were getting cabin fever and fed up. Stop playing games and give us some time lines so we can make plans of our own. Or like I said before in a past comment, build a larger jail and hire some more Corrections Officers. We ain't gonna take much more of your dithering.

Up 38 Down 7

Bud McGee on May 19, 2020 at 8:47 pm

Let's state the obvious here. Silver and Hanley are way way ... like epically way ... over their heads on this. The have no clue what they are doing. Their approach seems to be to wait and see what other jurisdictions do, copy that, and sprinkle in a few feel-good, yet ill-conceived and totally nonsensical policies. Most other Canadian jurisdictions are opening up. BC had 2 new cases today - TWO! Yet we still have a ban in place that prevents other Canadians (you know the people that fund this shambolic government) from visiting the Yukon.

Imagine if we were open? A lot of Canadians that can't go outside of the country might visit. Relatives might visit family in the Yukon. It's a huge missed opportunity to get Canadian tourism. The restrictions on other Canadians travelling to the Yukon doesn't make sense and might even be deemed unconstitutional if taken to Court.

Up 14 Down 29

Itookalook on May 19, 2020 at 8:39 pm

LITY, how long has it been now? You have been bad mouthing the liberals for years now. You predicted a con victory in the last election (how did that work out for you) and now you are predicting a one term liberal government? I ask you and be specific, if not the liberals, who? If not Mr. Silver, then who?
You somehow think that managing our way through this is a slam dunk walk in the park, well then who do you think can do a better job? Then we can have a discussion and I am sure a lot of readers will find it humorous.

Up 41 Down 7

Guncache on May 19, 2020 at 6:30 pm

I'm not waiting for any phases. There is no covid in THE Yukon. I'm carrying on business as usual. Remain in phase 3 until a vaccine is found? ha,ha, when is that? Get outside people and live, go camping, have bbq's, visit friends. Don't let the gov't control you.

Up 26 Down 5

One One-Lesser-Voice on May 19, 2020 at 5:50 pm

Based upon age and a medical condition I am in the vulnerable group.
However, I think we should move forward sooner than later. Get more bars and eateries open with distancing protocols.

Allow all stores to open with precautionary measures in place if it's not already happening.
Let's move forward. Get a few professional shamers down to the Centre of Hope and pressure the vulnerable people to be more careful.

Up 14 Down 26

Wes on May 19, 2020 at 5:35 pm

Maybe the folks wanting their freedoms back would be happier if Brendan started handing out the Hydroxychloroquine?

Up 34 Down 7

Matthew on May 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm

I hear them talk but nothing new is coming out... the "new normal" should be holding politicians accountable for what they've done, and their countless failed "predictions". I don't think people will actually realize how bad this is until they see their favourite shop shut down, until they see the unemployment numbers, until they see the only hockey stick graph worth being scared about, our national debt.. $250B added in a matter months!

Up 10 Down 2

martin on May 19, 2020 at 4:23 pm

@MsPragmatic: I was going to go for "nothing of nothing"; but I like yours better... shorter and to the point

Up 15 Down 9

BnR on May 19, 2020 at 4:15 pm

I reckon Lost In The Yukon should be calling the shots. He's an expert and has learned lots from The Google.

Up 27 Down 3

Kristof on May 19, 2020 at 3:43 pm

No dates for the different phases means nothing to plan on for travel related businesses. Yukoners are supposed to stay away from communities “if they don't belong there” but in the past four weeks 2500 Americans travelled thru southern Yukon, many of them stopping in Whitehorse for shopping and some stayed overnight in parking lots and hotels. YG’s plan does not make a lot of sense.

Up 30 Down 11

Whisky Creek on May 19, 2020 at 3:34 pm

It's all for show and Hanley himself knows it!

I stood behind him last week at the grocery store and watched him try to communicate with the cashier, through the clear plastic divider hanging between them. Unable to do so effectively, he leaned around the end of the plastic barrier to talk to the cashier. Not just once, but 3 times....

This, from the guy who is largely responsible for screwing up everyone else's lives with his heavy-handed and pointless measures. Geez.....

Up 71 Down 11

MsPragmatic on May 19, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Here's my summary for those too busy to read the article: No, No and More No. You're welcome.

Up 111 Down 29

Lost In the Yukon on May 19, 2020 at 3:09 pm

It’s time to call Bullshit on what Hanley (non-elected) and Silver (soon to be a one term Premier) are now doing. In the early days they seemed to have a handle on things but now seem to be lost ... each week we are asked to wait until next week for specifics etc. Meanwhile small businesses owned by Yukoners are going under but national big box stores are raking it in.

There may never be a vaccine ... Hanley knows this but is making all of put our lives on hold waiting for one. WTF

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