It’s not yet clear exactly what changes are coming to City of Whitehorse buildings when many COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in the territory Aug. 4.
Myles Dolphin, the city’s spokesperson, said, in a July 28 emailed statement, responding to questions about what the changes will mean for the city, that it’s the city’s understanding the “Chief Medical Officer of Health will be announcing some rapid recommendations shortly and those will help the city set expectations for the Canada Games Centre, city facilities and transit.”
During the July 28 weekly COVID-19 update, CMOH Dr. Brendan Hanley pointed to efforts underway with the city.
“Our team is working with the City of Whitehorse right now on mask recommendations for buses and facilities,” Hanley said. “And I think it’s a really good idea to keep wearing a mask in indoor public places for now.”
Pat Living, spokesperson for the territory’s Department of Health and Social Services, did not respond to a request for further details on the work happening with the city.
Among the many changes made by the City of Whitehorse since March 2020 in response to the pandemic, there has been no in-person public access to council meetings (though meetings are being streamed online and residents can make submissions in writing or by phoning into a meeting); and mask use on public transit and city recreation facilities was required ahead of the territory making it a mandatory requirement in all indoor public spaces on Dec. 1, 2020.
Initially, there were some front desk services and facilities shut by the city until measures were put in place to deal with COVID-19.
Free transit and parking were also in place for a brief period to deal with the pandemic and property owners were granted more time to pay their city utility and property tax bills in 2020.
A number of changes were made at the Canada Games Centre throughout the past year beginning with an initial closure, followed by a limited reopening of certain areas with smaller numbers permitted and social distancing measures in place.
All areas of the centre are now open, though social distancing measures are in place and numbers are limited.
Changes have also been made to city programming to adjust to the pandemic.
Along with greater limits on numbers and other measures to meet COVID-19 requirements, those changes have included adding more outdoor programming such as swimming lessons at Long Lake.
The territory’s mask requirement will lift Aug. 4, but individual businesses and organizations can require masks in their buildings as some businesses did in 2020 ahead of the territory’s requirement.
A number of businesses have already outlined their plans to continue requiring or requesting customers to wear masks inside their shops.
Though it’s unclear what changes may come to city facilities, services and exactly when council meetings will open to the public to attend in-person again, Dolphin stated the city would share more details “when we hear more”.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org