Masking, self-isolation set to end in Yukon as vaccination rate approaches 80 per cent

At a news conference Wednesday, Richard Mostyn, the territory's minister of community services, said that Yukon is now the "safest place on the planet" with 79 per cent of eligible adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Bars and restaurants can return to full capacity starting Aug. 4

Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn said during update that Yukon's high vaccination rates make the territory one of the safest jurisdictions in Canada. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

In just two weeks, the Yukon government will ease major COVID-19 restrictions.

No more masks will be required in public spaces, and no one will need to self-isolate when they come into the territory  — regardless of vaccination status — as of August 4.

The announcement came Wednesday during a COVID-19 news conference.

The territory's Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn said during the update that Yukon is now the "safest place on the planet" for those who are vaccinated.

"Our high vaccination rate makes the Yukon one of the safest jurisdictions in Canada indeed ... it makes Yukon one of the most safe places in the world."

"For those who have chosen not to get vaccinated, there is peril, sure. But there is also enough vaccine for everyone."

As of Monday, 79 per cent of eligible adults were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Mostyn also said the risk of COVID-19 importation in Yukon is now low.

"That low risk combined with ... our global leading high vaccination rates have prompted new recommendations."

Bars and restaurants will be able to return to full capacity, and physical distancing measures at stand-up and counter service for bars and restaurants will be lifted.

The masking order was put in place in December of last year.

The chief medical officer of health still recommends that masks continue to be used in specific settings such as physicians' offices, hospitals, and long term care facilities. 

Businesses may also ask that masks be worn.

Missed the news conference? Watch it here:

Limits on social gatherings will stay in place, Mostyn said, as that is where spread has been happening.

He said the territorial government will look for vaccination rates continuing to increase and case counts to continue to go down. 

If current trends continue, he said Yukon is on track to lift its state of emergency — and all remaining restrictions introduced under the Civil Emergencies Measures Act — next month.

"That will mean all the remaining restrictions introduced under the Civil Emergencies Measures Act will be lifted and we can truly begin to move on from this life-changing pandemic," Mostyn said.

Daily case count dropping

Mostyn said that in the past six weeks, 59 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 had gotten double doses.

"This is absolutely phenomenal. Our youth lead the country and most places on the continent."

He said there is evidence that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines used in Yukon work well against variants of concern, with both doses in place.

Yukon's acting chief medical officer of health, Dr. Catherine Elliott, said at the update that the territory added seven new cases of COVID-19 since noon on Tuesday. 

Catherine Elliott, Yukon's acting chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday that daily case counts are stabilizing in the territory, allowing for a slow easing of restrictions. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Six of those cases are in unvaccinated people, and their locations have not been confirmed yet.

Elliott said Yukon continues to see a steady decline of people affected by COVID-19, with cases stabilizing from three to eight people diagnosed each day.

"Our active case count is continuing to drop to a much more manageable level," she said.

"COVID-19 will not be leaving us anytime soon … even so we need to consider the implications if we don't make an active effort to move ahead," Elliott said.