Yukon borders won't be staffed 24/7, as territory sees fewer travellers by car

Yukon will no longer have staff at land borders 24-hours a day, with the government saying fewer people are travelling to the territory by car. Meanwhile, the territory is closing the COVID-19 information station at the intersection of the Alaska Highway and Robert Service Way in Whitehorse.

Territory is closing info station at Alaska Highway and Robert Service Way

An information station was set up along the Alaska Highway in Whitehorse, to provide travellers with information about COVID-19 restrictions in the territory. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

The Yukon government will no longer have 24-hour staff at two of its land borders, because it says fewer people are travelling to the territory by car.

The Alaska Highway and Junction 37 borders will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m, which is when most travellers arrive, said Minister of Community Services John Streicker.

Outside those hours, travellers from outside the Yukon "bubble" will still need to stop, sign a declaration and put their self-isolation plan and contact number in a box.

Airline travellers will still be met by officers when they get off a plane at the Whitehorse airport.

"We're trying to adjust to the reality of travellers and respond while maintaining the level of safety that we've had so far," said Streicker at Wednesday's COVID-19 update.

Streicker says the territory is seeing fewer cars as the weather cools, and expects traffic to slow down even more over the winter. He said more officers will be at the airport.

Streicker said people who intentionally provide false information or do not stop will be charged under the Civil Emergency Measures Act. He urged people to report rule-breakers.

"It will continue to be the law ... to declare yourself if you are arriving from a jurisdiction outside of B.C., or N.W.T. or Nunavut," said Streicker. "Self isolation is still required."

Closing COVID-19 information stop

Meanwhile, the territory is closing the COVID-19 information station at the intersection of the Alaska Highway and Robert Service Way in Whitehorse. The Yukon government set up the stop in May to help ensure travellers passing through the territory stayed on their route and did not go into Whitehorse.

Streicker said the territory has been working with the Canada Border Service Agency to "tighten" that process, which is now "much better."

As of Wednesday, the territory has laid 17 charges under the Civil Emergency Measures Act. The territorial government says one person was charged Tuesday with failing to sign a declaration and failing to self-isolate.

COVID patient recovering in hospital

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley said Yukon's recent COVID-19 patient is still recovering in hospital. 

The non-Yukon resident tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday after being assessed in the emergency department, Hanley said.

Hanley said the patient is "stable and improving" in hospital. He said the risk to others was small, and did not provide any details about where the person came from or where they had travelled.

"They were not ill upon arrival in Yukon," said Hanley, who stressed the importance of patient privacy in a small jurisdiction.

Yukon's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley at the Government of Yukon COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse, Yukon on April 20, 2020. (Government of Yukon/Alistair Maitland)

Hanley said he received the positive test result on Friday morning, however did not tell the public until the next day. Hanley said they needed to do initial contact tracing before putting out a public notice, which assured people the risk was low.

New guidelines for wind instruments, Halloween

Hanley also announced new guidelines that would allow singing and playing wind instruments in schools, which he said would be posted online by the end of the week.

He also said trick-or-treating will be allowed this year, although with new COVID-19 precautions like wearing a mask and knocking on doors with a broomstick. He suggested giving out treats with tongs or a hockey stick, and urged people not to leave a communal bowl of candy outside.

Hanley said people should celebrate Thanksgiving in a small group of 10 people at most indoors, keeping within your social bubble or well-spaced. He said outdoor gatherings are best if possible


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