Yukoners will no longer be required to mask up in indoor spaces beginning on Aug. 4.
The announcement came from the government’s weekly COVID-19 update on July 21.
Along with the end of mandatory masking, Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn and acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Elliott said physical distancing will no longer be required in public spaces and mandatory self-isolation will end for all Canadians entering the Yukon regardless of vaccination status.
“We’re just starting to feel a sense of calm as the daily case count has begun to drop. We can’t keep our lives on pause for much longer. As we continue to learn the ways of how COVID-19 targets how it affects people, how it’s transmitted, we have to transition to a time of living with COVID-19,” said Elliott.
Elliott said her office carefully weighed the evidence in making those recommendations to the government.
“I feel confident with this recommendation. We’ve accounted for all the jurisdictions’ current case activity and we’ve determined that the overall risk of COVID-19 of coming into the territory at a rapid rate is very unlikely. Across the country, provinces and territories are experiencing low case activity and high vaccination rates,” she said.
“Many of us have had to become used to these in order to function in our day-to-day lives in a way that’s different than we did before the pandemic touched our shores,” she continued. “I think we all are ready for this and we need to help each other. That includes supporting people and respecting people who choose to keep a distance or wear a mask or keep their contacts when small.”
Yukoners are still recommended to keep social gatherings to a limited number of people. Establishments like gyms and restaurants will not require masks, but businesses can still require patrons to use them.
While social distancing rules are no longer required, rules on dancing and karaoke have not changed but Elliott said more details are forthcoming. She also said that the changes are “not a recommendation to party” but instead a “call to responsibility.”
It will be up to individual Yukoners to decide when to wear a mask, clarify vaccination status when socializing or self-isolate. She also said testing and self-monitoring remains important.
“I strongly recommend that we continue to take those steps to be wise and to be careful. I don’t suggest throwing away your mask anytime soon. Masks will remain of value for quite some time,” Elliott said.
Masks are still useful among unvaccinated people, flu season or being around vulnerable populations.
Since the Yukon entered an outbreak in June, cases have now slowed down from a peak of 30 per day to the current three to eight cases being diagnosed daily.
The slowdown is good news, said Elliott, and if it continues the territory will be in a position to end the use of the Civil Emergency Measures Act next month.
Both Elliott and Mostyn continued to implore non-vaccinated Yukoners to get the shot.
“What our road ahead looks like will be determined by the number of people who receive the vaccination. So again, if you’ve not yet received your vaccine, please do consider doing so. I can promise you this virus will continue to take any opportunity that is provided to infect as many Yukoners as it can,” said Elliott.
The Yukon logged seven new cases on July 21. The territory has 66 active cases.
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org