As the territory moves past the Omicron wave, the government is announcing more changes to the current COVID-19 rules, with a plan to lift almost all capacity restrictions by early March.
“Things are looking good on the COVID-19 front as well,” said Premier Sandy Silver at a press conference on Feb. 17. “We appear to be moving past the peak of the Omicron wave in the territory, and we are trending towards safer waters.”
As a result, effective Feb. 18, restrictions will loosen even further.
Proof of vaccination in designated settings will only be required for people 19 years and older, and indoor faith-based and cultural gatherings will be limited to 50 per cent capacity but will no longer require proof of vaccination.
Bars and restaurants can return to normal hours of operation past 10 p.m. and a prohibition on casinos and nightclubs will end.
Indoor sports teams, group fitness classes and group recreation can operate at 50 per cent capacity. Arts facilities like movie theatres, museums and art galleries can also open up to 50 per cent capacity. Caps on 25 people in these facilities have ended.
Public saunas, hot springs, hot tubs and steam rooms will also be able to open at 50 per cent capacity.
Personal services may be offered with no venue capacity limits.
Mandatory masking, capacity limits and proof-of-vaccination requirements will remain in place for now, along with indoor personal gatherings being limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings limited to 25.
Silver said he hopes that by early March the only restriction that will remain will be the mask mandate, proof of vaccination and government vaccine requirement.
“We know that we can get there if we continue to do our part,” he said.
Asked if vaccine mandates and passports will be eventually lifted, Silver reiterated that those measures have always been described as temporary.
“We said from the beginning, that that’s a temporary measure. You know, again, this is all based upon us living in a pandemic,” he said. “This conversation, it’s something we talk about quite a bit.”
Chief medical officer Dr. Catherine Elliott said there are currently 61 active cases, with 12 new and case positivity down to 26 per cent. While the outbreak at Whistle Bend is over, the outbreak at the Thomson Centre continues.
Elliott also shared a preview of a new website the government plans to release in the coming days that will allow citizens to access more data about COVID-19 in the territory. Detailed stats on vaccination rates, case counts and hospitalizations will be public.
“This is an exciting move and will help all of us know what the data is in the near real-time and have an easy to read format with interactive graphs, maps and summaries of the data over the course of the pandemic. All of this will help us visualize where we’ve come and where we have yet to go,” she said.
Whitehorse residents are now able to access rapid tests at the Takhini Arena from Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Centennial Motors drive-thru seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
On Feb. 21, the Takhini Arena distribution site will close and a new walk-up location for at-home rapid test distribution will open in the north parking lot of the Visitor Information Centre on Lambert Street in downtown Whitehorse.
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org