Yukoners will be calling it an early night on Jan. 18, when new COVID-19 restrictions come into effect that limit gatherings, events and require bars and restaurants to be closed by 10 p.m.
The new measures, announced by the government on Jan. 14, are meant to address the rapid spread of Omicron and reduce contact between individuals. While Yukoners are recommended to implement them right away, they will become enforceable on Tuesday.
“We are in a critical period here in the territory as we brace for the impact other jurisdictions across Canada and the world are experiencing as a result of the Omicron variant. These new public health measures are necessary to limit the strain on our health care system and prevent it from being overwhelmed,” said Premier Sandy Silver, in a statement.
The new temporary measures include:
- Limiting all private and public gatherings to two households up to a maximum of 10 people, including recreational team sports; group fitness; group recreation and leisure activities; and at bars and restaurants, which remain limited to six people per table;
- postponing all indoor organized events including funerals and weddings;
- requiring casinos to stay closed; and
- requiring bars and restaurants to close no later than 10:00 p.m.
Based on data from Ontario and British Columbia, the Yukon is bracing for the full impact of the Omicron wave in the coming weeks. An increase in hospitalization and a shortage of healthcare workers is anticipated.
The test positivity percentage in the Yukon has risen from eight per cent in December to 40 per cent as of January 11. The national rate was 30 per cent on January 10.
Omicron is now the dominant variant in the territory. Healthy people who are fully vaccinated, including booster shots, are more likely to experience milder symptoms.
In addition to the new restrictions, acting chief medical officer Dr. Catherine Elliott is recommending that employers promote work from home policies when possible, encourage staying home when sick and offer support to employees impacted by self-isolation.
The Yukon’s Paid Sick Leave Rebate provides up to 10 days’ wages for workers that are sick, self-isolating or caring for other household members due to COVID-19 and is available to employers or people who are self-employed.
“These new measures are necessary to reduce the number of people who will become seriously ill and are designed to reduce COVID risk while maintaining health and well-being, to the greatest extent possible,” said Elliott.
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