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Yukon's reopening plan coming later this week, premier says

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley gave an update on COVID-19 in the territory on Tuesday afternoon.

No new cases in of COVID-19 in the territory in more than 3 weeks

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Chief Medical Officer of Health Brendan Hanley provided an update on COVID-19 in the territory on Tuesday. (Government of Yukon/Alistair Maitland)

Yukon officials say they'll present a reopening plan for the territory by Friday, but again cautioned that the risk of COVID-19 is not gone.

"We are not ready to declare the territory risk-free," said Premier Sandy Silver at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Still, Silver said plans are afoot to get the local economy going again, by allowing more businesses to open and Yukoners to resume some activities.

As of Tuesday, the territory still has no active cases of COVID-19. The territory has seen 11 confirmed cases in total, and all of those people have recovered.

It has been nearly a month since the last confirmed cases were announced.

Silver defended his government's slow easing of restrictions, and reluctance to make any announcements, sooner.

"We're not looking to act politically when we make these announcements," he said.

"They are coming at just the right time, with balancing the needs to maintain the strict requirements but at the same time allowing Yukoners to start moving around more freely."

Watch Tuesday's news conference here (note: poor audio quality in first eight minutes):

He said templates will be available this week for businesses to develop operational plans to reopen.

"The template is intended to guide businesses and service providers through the process of identifying and mitigating the health and safety hazards related to COVID-19," he said.  

Silver also said Tuesday that as people start returning to work, child care will become an issue. He said Tuesday that plans are being finalized to lift some restrictions on child care facilities and summer camps.

International flights into Yukon unlikely this summer

Also on Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley said that Yukon's border controls would remain tight for the foreseeable future. He said that will allow officials to ease more restrictions within the territory.

Hanley also said it's unlikely that Yukon will see any international flights arrive in the territory this summer. That includes Condor, which offers direct flights between Whitehorse and Frankfurt each summer. 

Condor's website shows its first direct flight scheduled to arrive in Whitehorse on June 28. 

A Condor plane at the Whitehorse airport last year. Officials say it's unlikely that any international flights will be able to land in Yukon this summer. (Submitted by Werner Walcher)

"That flight will not be arriving," Hanley said.

"We will not be in a position to meet federal requirements for international arrivals, let alone comfortable with the risk.

"We're not going to apply a different category of risk assessment to international travel when we're still maintaining border controls domestically. It just would not make any sense."

Hanley also said that people will continue to be able to transit through Yukon as necessary, including U.S. military families stationed at bases in Alaska.

"But we can and will ensure that they move through in a way that does not threaten our safety," Hanley said.

Silver was also asked about easing border restrictions for residents of Skagway and Haines, Alaska. He said that's up to the federal government, and it's unlikely to happen.

"I don't think we're going to see one-offs from the federal government."

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