Premier Sandy Silver holds up a vehicle decal at the Yukon government’s COVID-19 update on July 22. The decals will be given to vehicles with out-of-territory licence plates whose occupants are either critical workers or visitors who have completed their 14-day isolation periods to signify that they are allowed to travel within the territory. (Alistair Maitland Photography)

Yukon introduces vehicle decals for visitors allowed to travel within the territory

Premier Sandy Silver and Dr. Brendan Hanley also gave more details on Phase 3 at July 22 update

The Yukon is handing out green decals to vehicles with out-of-territory licence plates whose occupants are allowed to be travelling within the territory.

Premier Sandy Silver introduced the decals, which have been available since July 20, during the territory’s weekly COVID-19 update on July 22.

Critical service providers and visitors who have completed their mandatory 14-day isolation periods can pick up their decals at the Emergency Measures Office in Whitehorse.

They will not be provided to people transiting through the territory, Silver said, and only to vehicles with licence plates from British Columbia and the other territories, all of which are part of the Yukon’s travel bubble, upon request.

Silver and the territory’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, also said during the update that the territory is still on track to move into Phase 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan on Aug. 1 as previously announced.

Hanley said that Phase 3 would start and progress slowly, describing Aug. 1 as a “soft launch.”

While the territory had been looking forward to removing self-isolation requirements for more Canadian jurisdictions — particularly, Alberta — that won’t be happening quite yet.

“I’m not comfortable with the numbers I’m seeing, nor with the level of risk that exists for us to be able to remove that requirement for self-isolation for Albertans,” he said.

“We’re watching a few other jurisdictions, and given what we’re seeing in BC, we need to take a few more weeks to get a better picture of which way the trends are going.”

Specifically, he cautioned anyone going to, or returning from, Kelowna to be “very careful” and to keep a “low profile” upon returning to the Yukon due to a recent spike of cases detected in the area.

Hanley also said Phase 3 will be “less prescriptive” about maintaining a two-household bubble and more about “holding our social circles small, well-behaved and consistent.” Limits on household gatherings will remain at 10 people, although officials are working on guidelines for “indoor seated and planned events” — ones that wouldn’t involve too much milling about or mingling — that would allow for things like weddings, funerals or sewing circles.

Both he and Silver acknowledged that respecting physical distancing and gathering size guidelines as well as other COVID-related recommendations could be taxing, but urged Yukoners to remain responsible in order to prevent community transmission from happening.

“When we let our guard down, that’s when we let the disease back in,” Hanley said, noting that recent spikes — including the one in Kelowna — were attributed to large social gatherings.

He appealed to “young people” in particular, saying that while they may feel “invincible” and do tend to tolerate having COVID-19 better than other age groups, the risk was not only to them but also to more vulnerable groups they could spread it to.

“We need all of us to think of someone who we want to protect — maybe a father-in-law who’s undergoing chemo, a grandparent who is at risk because of age and inability to fight the disease, or even a middle-aged single parent who has to work to support her children and who can’t afford to stay home but will have to do so if sick,” Hanley said.

“…Remember, Team Yukon — we’re still a team, and we’re still not even at halftime in this long, long game.”

The Yukon saw the last of its 11 in-territory COVID-19 case in April, with the person having recovered by May. Two Yukoners who caught COVID-19 while travelling Outside are continuing to recover.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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