Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

BACK IN THE SADDLE – On Wednesday, Premier Sandy Silver (left) made his first appearance at a COVID-19 weekly briefing since early March. Also shown are Mary Tiesen, the government’s American sign language interpreter, and Dr. Brendan Hanley.

Territories talking about reduced travel restrictions

Once again, there was little definitive new information to report out of the Yukon government’s regular COVID-19 weekly briefing held Wednesday morning.

By Tim Giilck on April 29, 2021

Once again, there was little definitive new information to report out of the Yukon government’s regular COVID-19 weekly briefing held Wednesday morning.

For the first time since the territorial election was called on March 12, Premier Sandy Silver returned to the briefing to add his input.

Silver said he was aware of the pressure building to declare some kind of travel bubble with the Northwest Territories, and particularly the Mackenzie Delta region.

He said he’s quite familiar with the inter-relationships between people in the delta and their Yukon counterparts, particularly amongst the Gwitchin peoples.

Silver said he and Hanley have been talking to N.W.T. officials and health representatives about possibly allowing reduced travel restrictions.

Such movement might also be a boost to the Yukon economy, since many delta residents do much of their shopping in the Yukon, particularly in Whitehorse.

Silver said details still need to be worked out, but he hoped to be able to make an announcement soon.

Interestingly, when Silver was asked by a reporter as to how the Yukon could continue to manage the pandemic without a government in place for nearly two months, he said there was no difficulty.

He is still the premier, he pointed out, and the government, even in caretaker status, is quite capable of addressing problems or making changes to health measures at any time during the election process,

That’s in contrast to what Hanley has been saying during his solo briefings.

For several weeks, Hanley has hinted he has new recommendations that couldn’t be implemented while the government was in a caretaker phase. That discrepancy was not addressed further on Wednesday.

Despite that, both Hanley and Silver continued to double-down in their support for not relaxing the ongoing health restrictions.

While vaccines are going well in terms of overall numbers, with a vaccination rate of more than 72 per cent for the territory, Hanley said he is concerned that younger adult cohorts were not being vaccinated at those rates.

He said he would like to see all of the age cohorts hit that 75 per cent mark before considering whether it met the criteria for potential herd immunity.

That’s something that has never been explicitly said before.

All of the discussions previously about herd immunity had hedged on whether the 75 per cent mark would be enough to meet herd immunity.

It hadn’t been previously mentioned that every age cohort eligible for vaccination should be at that mark.

A Star reporter asked him how he would respond to irate members of the public complaining his comments constitute “moving the goal posts” on the question.

“I’m not sure what goalposts have been moved?” he said. “I don’t understand.”

He went on to say it had always been the intention to have the 75 per cent figure apply across the age cohorts rather than just a flat 75 per cent across the board.

He added, as he has said for weeks now, that it’s unclear as to whether that figure is the correct one. The number could be higher, he said.

“The higher the better,” he said. “It’s much more difficult to know what the number is.”

Silver chipped in and agreed with Hanley, saying he thought it had been explicit as to how the herd immunity question worked.

Currently, there are no active COVID-19 cases in the Yukon, Silver said.

The loss of a territorial resident outside of the jurisdiction who had acquired COVID-19 was touched on by Silver, and was the subject of a pointed question for Hanley by CBC Yukon reporter Jackie Hong.

“Did that press release (announcing the death) meet your standards?” she asked.

The release caused a furor on the Internet and social media for its brevity and lack of details.

The Star and other media sources had to ask followup questions to discover the person had been out of the Yukon when the virus was contracted not long before passing away from other medical problems.

Hanley gave a rambling answer to that question that did little to resolve the issue.

“It’s something we will continue to work on,” Silver added.

Comments (30)

Up 5 Down 1

DMZ on May 4, 2021 at 11:44 pm

@The Hammer -- leaving aside your unnecessarily harsh and ignorant language. We have a total of 82 covid infections in the past 14 months, some of which were added due to an arcane cataloguing of those infections, such as people who weren't here when they got it or recovered from it.

Our vaccination rate increases, if slowly, every day, and we're past 70 percent. There's no better situation in the country for lifting restrictions, and that doesn't have to mean all of them at once. But nobody even knows, really, what works. How are we ever going to find out if just the prospect of lifting any restrictions at all sends people like you into a tizzy?

Supposedly people want their own anxieties about covid supported by everyone else. We're supposed to get vaccines to protect...you. Sustain extended periods of restrictions to protect...you. Wear masks to protect...you. Not question any of this to protect...you.

Well, I agree with another commenter here. There's also a selfishness to expecting people to live in this abnormal way indefinitely. The least you can do -- the absolute least -- is respect the right of other people to feel differently than you. There are anxieties at least as valid as your own out there.

Up 7 Down 5

TheHammer on May 3, 2021 at 5:23 pm

DMZ@ What third wave? The third wave happening in the rest of the country, try reading the news. Open the gates to India, Brazil, Montreal, BC? What third wave? You must be joking, there's no third wave here because we are living in a bubble, burst the bubble based on your crazy vision and we will find out what third wave is.

Up 18 Down 8

NickyB on May 3, 2021 at 4:46 pm

The Plandemic is over for everyone but the govt. They will beat a dead horse for as long as it frightens people into compliance with ever-changing endless regulations which are often inconsistent and sometimes contradictory.

Everyone I know ignores the regulations unless they must go to some public place. Everywhere else they just go about life normally.

Up 18 Down 5

DMZ on May 3, 2021 at 4:17 pm

@The Hammer, third wave where? We barely had a first wave. We're past 70 percent of the population having their first shot. And they still won't even talk about a plan to lift restrictions. They only want to convince us that things could get worse. You don't have to be an anti-masker or conspiracy theorist to think that's not right.

Up 7 Down 3

DMZ on May 3, 2021 at 3:45 pm

@Old Ford, I hope you're not comparing wearing a seatbelt to pandemic restrictions.

Up 11 Down 18

Unknown soldier on May 3, 2021 at 1:41 pm

@sheepchaser and Jupiter, you guys are lucky to even live in the Yukon, your stepping on our grandmother and father’s ashes, move away from the Yukon if you can’t handle the safety protocols and listen how simple can that be, move if you don’t like it here.

Up 7 Down 8

TheHammer on May 3, 2021 at 1:00 pm

Opening the gates when it's third wave time is a gambol. If it's a catastrophe, the people supporting it will start crying for Silver and Hanley's resignation. The split minded politicos will use any situation to promote their negative agenda.

Up 18 Down 7

Now what? on May 3, 2021 at 7:57 am

How is this going to end? The goal post keeps moving. How disingenuous to state now that it was always the intention to have our vaccination goals apply over all age cohorts. WTF? What’s next, we won’t be out of jail until all the kids are vaccinated? 90% herd immunity? What will we become here?

I just returned from medical appointments in Vancouver. In 18 days I return for surgery. Then home to quarantine for another 2 weeks before I leave again for follow up. And guess what, my spouse won’t be able to effectively work because it’s impractical for me to self isolate from him here.

Zero tolerance for risk is what I’m seeing up here. That should frighten people immensely. But there seem to be enough people up here that are perfectly happy with the cozy status quo to keep the rest of us locked down forever. Do we have any rights left? What about the constitution? What about people’s mental health? What about the psychological impact of perpetual lockdowns? The ‘rest’ of us are being called selfish for insisting on greater transparency and a clearly communicated path way out of this mess. Who the hell is being selfish here?

Up 10 Down 2

YukonMax on May 3, 2021 at 6:54 am

We will be in lockdown and wearing masks for as long as we depend on the outside world to survive. Like last year, the Yukon will be used and abused so we can keep our dear economy going with our "best friends" the Americans and their money.
It is what it is.

Up 6 Down 13

Old Ford on May 2, 2021 at 5:33 pm

Let me guess June, you don’t wear a seatbelt just so you can ‘own the Libs’?

Up 20 Down 10

Not Karen on May 2, 2021 at 7:52 am

Dorothy Level, I gotta ask..... how were you able to ignore the medical advice of literally thousands of doctors, scientists, universities, hospitals and health institutions and yet embrace the arguably misguided views of one doctor in Lytton, BC? If he's right, about 50 people in Whitehorse should have been killed by Moderna vaccine by now.

Up 34 Down 4

Groucho d'North on May 1, 2021 at 4:48 pm

They might as well open things back up, the security team they gave the contract to in Watson Lake have not been doing a very good job at all. There are people in Whitehorse from all over Canada & some of the USA.
So much for quality control.

Up 28 Down 14

Juniper Jackson on May 1, 2021 at 4:32 pm

I am a proponent of personal choice. I very much resent that being taken away from me. People want to stay home? Stay home. Why try to force me to stay home too? Want to wear a mask? Do it. But, why force me to? By now, everyone and their gerbil has read the pros and cons of the big "pandemic".
The federal government SAID, we're closing the boarders, but continued to bring thousands of people a day into Canada from diseased hot spots. The LOCAL liberals said, we're closing the border. uh huh. 75,000 people came though, and it's not even summer yet. You can't go to church and sit next to anyone and sing, but you can scream/yell/march side by side in a protest. If it's FOR the Liberals, no problem, if its against Liberal policy, you get a ticket. You can tie a piece of lace around your mouth, and call it a mask. I didn't see anyone today with a mask around their nose. Tucked under their nose, yes. Our own medical people are handing out the same old useless crap.
Hanley drivels on and on and on.. but, doesn't say much. I had my hopes pinned on Kate. That she would have too much integrity to align herself with lies and scandal, debt.. but..there she is. So disappointed. We all want to go to the NWT, because that's a real holiday mecca. Not. I cannot see an end to this lockdown. To be clear.. I am not locked down. But, I also know that i am breaking the law by ignoring the lockdown orders.

Up 31 Down 11

Sheepchaser on May 1, 2021 at 12:33 pm

Very much looking forward to our day in court, Doc. We’re working hard on this end and have a strong case coming together. See you soon.

Up 25 Down 22

Dorothy Lebel on May 1, 2021 at 12:48 am

Stop pressuring people to take this experimental injection that has not been tested for long-term adverse effects.

Of concern for all of us: Dr. Charles Hoffe, of Lytton, BC, wrote this April 5, 2021 open letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry regarding covid-19 vaccine ‘Moderna’ severe adverse effects on his patients.

Up 29 Down 13

Yolande Cherepak on Apr 30, 2021 at 5:47 pm

Heard there will be another anti-lockdown protest/rally on May 7th at noon. Location TBD but probably yukonfreedom.com website will have info.

Up 67 Down 8

Groucho d' North on Apr 30, 2021 at 2:52 pm

They're making it up as they go along

Up 71 Down 10

DMZ on Apr 30, 2021 at 11:10 am

"All the age cohorts". Well. Does that include the children that aren't yet eligible for the vaccine? Hanley has found himself a sweet little loophole. For these two clowns to say they've always made that clear -- I can't even. They never even settled on a 75 percent figure. To say that was always the intention is just a bald-faced lie. Right to our faces.

The downside of having so few infections -- going from say, one to zero. How can you even make the case to these guys there's meaningful reduction.
Maybe Currie can direct some of his indignation towards this issue instead of his own position in the hierarchy of the Legislature. Because the NDP won't do it.

Up 34 Down 1

YukonMax on Apr 30, 2021 at 6:44 am

After 16 years in the same remote community of the Yukon, this past year was the first time I surprised myself saying "I am happy to be here".
Now, you can make your own mind as of why?

Up 74 Down 13

Moose101 on Apr 30, 2021 at 6:43 am

Oh yeh just what the Yukon needs is a travel bubble with NWT. It’s the number 1 destination for Yukoners to travel to at this time. What a stupid political move.

Up 69 Down 10

Moose101 on Apr 30, 2021 at 6:37 am

I’ve had it with Hanley and his misleading statements. if you look elsewhere about herd immunity it’s across the board not every age group and his evasive attitude to direct questions.

Up 66 Down 16

martin on Apr 30, 2021 at 6:29 am

And we just had an election. Couldn't we toss these out? The YP got the biggest precentage of the electoral vote, yet we're stuck with the same old, same old.

Up 65 Down 11

JohnW on Apr 29, 2021 at 8:58 pm

HJ is correct; all of these briefings are little more than gaslighting. The restrictions are based on ever-changing political whims, largely dictated by the FedLIB. None of it is based on current medical science and the numerous studies done since the Covid start-up.

If the CMO was concerned about real Yukon immunity levels instead of arbitrary numbers for political reasons, then he would remove the ban on Covid immunity tests and take enough samples to see what the Yukon herd immunity is right now. However, it appears that they're afraid to see that the data will show most the restrictions are unjustified.

Their actions speak louder than words, and demonstrate that the LIBgov goal is to keep as many restrictions as possible for as long as they can.

Up 81 Down 16

Al Falle on Apr 29, 2021 at 7:25 pm

With over 70% of Yukoners vaccinated why in hell are we still locked down and wearing masks that does little or nothing to stop the spread of covid, have we learned nothing from Flordia or Texas or do we intend in living our lives in fear?

Up 62 Down 8

My Opinion on Apr 29, 2021 at 7:18 pm

When I can go to Atlin, Mayo, Carmacks, etc., and not see signs saying that I am less then welcome then maybe I will support communities needing to come to Whitehorse.

There are trucks driving to Inuvik daily with groceries etc., they are fine.

Up 71 Down 13

My Opinion on Apr 29, 2021 at 7:15 pm

How many people want to go to the Delta? Raise your hands. Now How many want to go to BC or Alberta. Landslide.

Up 66 Down 13

Lost In the Yukon on Apr 29, 2021 at 6:30 pm

Enough is enough of Hanley ... He provides no scientific evidence to support his excessive measures other than “this is what he wants to do”. I challenge him to produce a document where he said to the public that it had to be across ALL age groups.

Up 117 Down 27

Al on Apr 29, 2021 at 3:49 pm

...this ball and chain around my ankle is getting heavier every day !

Up 110 Down 19

HJ on Apr 29, 2021 at 2:19 pm

So in response to the question about goalpost-moving, we just get more gaslighting.

Up 44 Down 41

JSM on Apr 29, 2021 at 2:12 pm

This is a good step that is far over due for the folks that need to cross borders for easier grocery/supply shopping.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.