COVID-19 restrictions are set to ease slightly on Dec. 4, including limits on indoor gatherings ahead of the holiday season.
When the state of emergency was reintroduced, the government said it hoped to ease restrictions around Dec. 3.
Indoor gatherings will no longer be limited to 25 individuals, and proof of vaccination will not be required for faith-based gatherings or to access personal services such as hair salons.
Vaccination proof is also not required for sport and rec activities for youth under 18.
Mask requirements and limits to 50 per cent of venue capacity will still be in place.
“Aside from this, the existing public health measures will remain in effect,” said Silver.
The government has also changed ID requirements for youth under the age of 18, who were required to show photo-ID along with proof of vaccination. Now, youth can use non-photo ID, such as a birth certificate.
As of Dec. 1, all Yukon employees and contractors who have not disclosed whether or not they received a vaccine dose will be placed on leave without pay. This includes teachers and health care professionals employed by the Yukon government.
“Vaccination requirements are extremely important to protect individuals that are essential for the health and safety of all Yukoners,” he said.
During the press conference, Silver said that 94 per cent of government employees reported they had received the vaccine. Silver said around 44 people are currently being processed for religious and health exemptions.
Silver said most of the employees who have not attested are casual or on-call employees. He said two per cent of those who have not attested are full-time employees.
There are 61 active cases in the Yukon and since Nov. 24 there have been two hospitalizations and one medevac out of the territory, according to Elliot. Elliott said around 50 per cent of recent infections were among vaccinated people, but the vaccine has prevented severe illness and hospitalizations.
“I think we all had hoped at the beginning that we would have what’s called a sterilizing vaccine that would prevent any infections from COVID-19. That’s very rare for a vaccine,” said Elliott. “I think we were also extremely satisfied with the prevention power of the vaccines, not only for infections but particularly for severe disease and for death. This highly effective, highly safe vaccine is one of the great protective factors we have.”
She said we will eventually expect to see Omicron in the Yukon but the intent is to slow the timeline down.
“We have recognized this variant early, and we have time to prepare and delay its inevitable introduction here,” she said. “The decline from active case counts of well over 100 to the current number demonstrates the effectiveness of the circuit breaker measures which we have undertaken.”
She said the transmissibility and seriousness of Omicron is still being watched closely, in addition to how effective the vaccines will be against it. Elliott said NACI is currently working on whether the new variant will change the approach to booster shots.
Right now, Yukon is offering boosters to those 50 and older.
“That puts us ahead of many of the provinces and territories across Canada,” she said.
“It’s very important, more important than ever, to get vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated, or it’s time to have your booster, or if you’re a child ready to step up and get your pediatrician vaccine,” she said.
Elliott said the vaccine mandate was responsible for a “solid increase” in the number of people who decided to get the vaccine.
Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Elliot said interest in the recently approved vaccines for children has been strong, with appointments booked up until Dec. 17.
During the press conference Dr. Katharine Smart, the president of the Canadian Medical Association, spoke directly to parents about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“I don’t think there’s any family in the territory who’s not been impacted by COVID in some way, and that includes our children,” she said. “The pediatric vaccines are presenting the opportunity to both protect children and their health directly — in terms of preventing contracting COVID and the health risks associated with that — but it also gives us the opportunity to create safety for children and allow them to return to their lives.”
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org