Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on May 22. (Alistair Maitland Photography)

Restaurants and personal services businesses to open next week

Industry-specific guidelines for reopening are available online

Restaurants and personal care businesses will be able to reopen their doors next week provided their COVID-19 operational plans have been approved.

Premier Sandy Silver, Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai and the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced, during the May 22 update, further details on the businesses that can reopen.

Silver said the guidelines for personal services have been put on the territory’s website and that these businesses will be able to open as of May 27, if their operational plan has been approved by Hanley’s office.

Restaurants will also be able to open soon. With an approved operational plan, Yukon restaurants can be open for business as of May 29. These guidelines were also released on May 22.

Hanley said restaurants must reduce their capacity by half, hand sanitizer must be available for people, patrons must adhere to physical distancing with tables to be spaced out and there must be enhanced cleaning and sanitation as well as a screening process for customers.

Anyone eating at a restaurant should keep their party to their household bubble, Hanley recommends.

Hanley said these newly reopened businesses should be able to stay open even if there are new cases. He clarified that it would need to be a large outbreak causing a strain on the healthcare system for the government to consider shutting things down.

“Clearly we’re trying to progress in a way where we would not need to do that,” Hanley said.

Bars will not be reopening yet. Hanley explained that bars pose a different risk than restaurants, as there can be more congregations at bars, and bars will be addressed at a later phase.

“We want to get the restaurants right first,” Hanley said.

Silver said that daycares are now open to everyone, not just essential workers. Hanley said daycares should be able to go back to their pre-COVID-19 enrolments, provided they can adhere to health orders.

Pillai announced a new workers support program as well as a student support program.

The Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program will work with its federal counterpart to help top up wages. It is for essential or critical workers making under $20 per hour and will cover a 16-week period.

The territory has also set aside $750,000 to help get students get hired in essential or critical jobs. This is for graduating and post secondary students looking for summer jobs and works alongside the essential worker wage top up.

“We’re happy to provide this support to Yukoners,” Pillai said.

To get the wage top up, employers must apply for it. Pillai encouraged employers to contact the Department of Economic Development to start the process. Employers can decide what time periods they want for the program.

To date 1,145 people have been tested for the virus. There are no new cases in the territory.

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com

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