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Rapid-test kits will be available at some Yukon businesses

Government vaccination requirements will remain for high-risk settings
Two COVID-19 rapid tests distributed by the Yukon government. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News file)

Rapid-test kits will now be available to be picked up at a number of Yukon businesses.

In Whitehorse, residents can obtain test kits at the Qwanlin Mall Shoppers Drug Mart, Save-On Foods and Superstore. They’ll also be available at The Little Green Apple in Haines Junction.

Beginning on March 28 the drive-thru rapid test location at Centennial Motors on the Alaska Highway will close. The Visitor Information Centre pick-up location will be open until April 29, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“Regardless of your test result, I continue to encourage Yukoners to stay home if they are feeling sick to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or other viruses,” said acting chief medical officer Dr. Catherine Elliott.

The government has also announced that as of April 4, most government employees will no longer need proof of vaccination. Employees, contractors and volunteers working in high-risk settings will be the exception.

Those workplaces include long-term care homes, residential substance use programs, hospitals, shelters, residential care facilities, correction centres, community health centres and public health clinics.

As of March 21 there have been a total of 137,107 at-home rapid tests distributed across the Yukon. There are currently 84 new cases in the territory.

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Catherine Elliott confirmed on March 25 that BA.2 is now in the territory.

“We are now seeing both the BA.1 and BA.2 variants of omicron in the Yukon. Please ensure your vaccines are up to date and use your COVID sense. This means staying home when sick, wearing a mask, washing your hands, and using fresh air and physical distance to reduce your risk,” said Elliott, in a press release.

Elliott has also acknowledged that a 24th person has died. The health department did not put out a release about the death, but it was recorded in the COVID-19 data dashboard. Elliott said the person who died was vulnerable to severe COVID-19.

Premier Sandy Silver said on March 24 that the Yukon’s health care system isn’t currently facing a strain and the removal of restrictions is important to allow people to socialize.

“As long as we don’t have a strain on our medical system, then we need to get back to normal,” he said. “If we find out events are happening and that safety is not there anymore, we will have to reconsider for sure.”

While he didn’t attend, Silver said Dawson’s Thaw di Gras carnival, the first major event to take place since restrictions were lifted, was an important moment for many people.

“It was a wonderful event where people felt like a community again, and that’s so necessary now. So we’re monitoring to make sure that our healthcare systems are safe and not overrun, but we also really need to socialize,” he said.

Contact Haley Ritchie at