Some public health restrictions could be eased as early as the coming weekend, sending many youth in the territory back to sport and rec programs.
During a Feb. 3 COVID-19 update, Premier Sandy Silver announced the planned gradual easing of restrictions over the coming weeks, provided the number of COVID-19 cases go down.
It would begin this weekend when indoor team sports and recreation programs for those aged 19 and under are eased to 25 people or 50 per cent of venue capacity, whichever is less.
Currently, indoor recreational team sports, group fitness, group recreation and leisure activities are limited to 10 people from a maximum of two vaccinated households, effectively cancelling indoor programming throughout the territory.
If all goes well, a week later the same capacity regulations would be in place for sports and recreation programs for those 19 years and older, Silver said, stressing the importance of a gradual shift to ease restrictions.
A week after that would be changes for indoor gatherings. While the number of people for such gatherings would remain at 10, they would no longer be limited to two households.
Then, changes would come to bars and restaurants with the territory maintaining limit of six people per table, but removing the requirement they be from two households.
Finally on March 1, Silver said bars and restaurants could move back to their regular hours rather than the 10 p.m. closure time outlined in the current restrictions.
As Silver outlined the plans, he remained clear that those plans “may have to change if the numbers change”.
While recent outbreaks at long-term care homes in the territory have been deemed to be over, Dr. André Corriveau, who virtually attended the press conference in place of the acting chief medical officer of health, said the restrictions put in place while the outbreaks were happening will remain in force until March 2 “out of an abundance of caution.”
The territory’s priority is the health and safety of Yukoners and ensuring the health care system isn’t overwhelmed, Silver said.
“COVID-19 continues to spread at an alarming rate across the country,” he added.
In the territory, the current COVID-19 count – based on PCR testing only – shows 132 active cases, with 18 of those being new cases.
There have also been two recent deaths from COVID-19, with Silver extending his condolences to the families and friends of those who have died.
As Silver encouraged Yukoners to do everything they can to help keep numbers down, including getting vaccinated, he also reflected on the strain the pandemic has placed on mental health, adding there are resources available for those who need help.
Services are available through the territory’s branch of mental health and wellness which can be reached at 1-866-456-3838 for those in communities or 1-867-456-3838 for those in Whitehorse.
The Yukon division of the Canadian Mental Health Association also has a Reach Out Support Line available at 1-844-533-3030.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org