Photo by Whitehorse Star
Premier Sandy Silver
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Premier Sandy Silver
Dr. Brendan Hanley, chief medical officer, provided an update to COVID-19 measures in the territory on Friday afternoon to round off a week chock-full of announcements.
At that point, the Yukon was still at six cases, with four now recovered and all affected “doing well at home,” Hanley told a news briefing.
There have now been 753 tests conducted in the territory, with 694 negative results and 53 pending.
The Yukon continues to evade community transmission. That means cases that are not connected to a travel-related case or cannot be traced to a known cluster of outbreaks.
“That puts us in good shape for taking a breather again, this (past) weekend,” Hanley said.
Hanley clarified recommendations to those in self-isolation but hoping to take part in outdoor activities.
“You can go outside, as long as you have a safe way to get outside, so you don’t infringe on anyone else’s two-metre bubble,” Hanley said.
Snowmobile rides, or other activities that may result in machinery breakdowns necessitating help, are not recommended. Outdoor activities at the ski club are also discouraged.
“I will not be able to adjudicate every scenario, but the best question to ask is, ‘is there any risk I might not be able to comply with safe spacing?’” Hanley said.
The chief medical officer said he has heard concern about the lack of traffic at the Whitehorse General Hospital’s emergency department, and clarified that Yukoners should still visit the hospital in emergencies.
“I’ve seen descriptions of an eerie calm …. I want to reassure people who would normally visit the emergency department that these are still safe places to come.”
To protect rural communities, Hanley recommends that service providers engaging with those communities contact local governments before entering. A Yukon government team will be established to support this engagement.
“This goes a long way to alleviating people’s worry,” Premier Sandy Silver said Friday.
Hanley also reiterated that safety guidelines are now posted on yukon.ca for critical service workers returning from travel.
Both Hanley and Silver reviewed the new enforceable laws for protection against COVID-19.
Those laws include:
• mandated self-isolation after travel;
• a declaration that no COVID-19 symptoms are present while entering the territory and providing contact and destination information;
• bar closures and restaurants open for take-out only;
• dental visits limited to emergency;
• personal service businesses closed; and
• no gatherings of more than 10 people.
Special provisions on these laws are in place for critical service providers, who must instead follow the guidelines provided by the Yukon government.
Silver doubled down on the importance of following these laws.
“We must continue to take this extremely seriously; we must operate with an abundance of caution,” Silver said.
“These are not suggestions, these are the law; if you do not comply, you will be subject to fines and possible jail time.”
Silver said his government is taking a three-pronged approach to fight COVID-19: reducing the number of cases in Yukon or “flattening the curve” of new cases, taking precautions to avoid the overload of cases on the medical system and supporting the economy.
Federal supports available to Yukoners kicked in today, Silver noted.
They include applying for the Canadian Response Benefit through the Canada Revenue Agency online portal. This fund will provide applicants with $500 per week for up to 16 weeks.
A wage subsidy will also be available for Yukoners, covering up to 75 per cent of salaries for businesses that have experienced a 30 per cent decline in revenue due to COVID-19.
“Yukoners, I want to be crystal clear in saying this: stay home as much as possible,” Silver said.
“We are all realizing now how much of a challenge that really is, but I need all Yukoners to take this seriously…. Staying home will literally save lives.”
Silver recommended that Yukoners struggling with physical distancing requirements to reach out to the mental health support systems available on the government website.
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