Yukon introduces stronger public health measures, effective Tuesday

A limit on all private and public gatherings to two households, up to a maximum of 10 people, is one of several new measures the Yukon government is implementing to deal with the rapid spread of COVID-19 cases in the territory.

All private and public gatherings limited to 2 households, up to a maximum of 10 people beginning Jan. 18

A view of downtown Whitehorse and the Yukon River, September 2021. The Yukon government is implementing stronger public health measures to prevent its health care system from being overwhelmed. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

The Yukon government is imposing stronger public health measures as it deals with the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the territory.

The new measures include a limit on all private and public gatherings to two households, up to a maximum of 10 people, including for recreational team sports, group recreation and leisure activities, "and at bars and restaurants, which remain limited to six people per table," it said in a Friday night news release.

All indoor organized events, including funerals and weddings, are postponed, casinos need to stay closed, and bars and restaurants must be closed by 10 p.m., the release stated.

"These new public health measures are necessary to limit the strain on our health care system and prevent it from being overwhelmed," said Premier Silver in the release.

"We are in a critical period here in the territory as we brace for the impact other jurisdictions across Canada and the world are experiencing as a result of the Omicron variant."

The government said the new measures take effect Jan. 18, and will be enforced under the Civil Emergency Measures Act.

It added it's encouraging Yukoners to follow the new measures right away.

More cases and hospitalizations to come

Earlier Friday, the Yukon government reported 459 active COVID-19 cases in the territory. Last Monday, there were 395 reported cases across the territory.

The release stated the territory will continue to see the number of cases grow "for at least the next three to five weeks,"

It added the positivity rate in the Yukon stood at 40 per cent as of Jan. 11, compared to eight per cent on Dec. 28. Yukon's positivity rate is among the highest in the country, which has an average positivity rate of 30 per cent.

Despite the new measures, the release stated the Yukon can expect more hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the weeks to come, based on trends in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

"An increase in hospital admissions along with high rates of illness and absenteeism among health care workers in the coming weeks would put a significant strain on the Yukon's health care system," stated the release.

The acting chief medical officer of health, Dr. Catherine Elliott, is also recommending that businesses let employees work from home wherever possible, have employees stay home when they're sick and "offer supports to mitigate the impacts of self-isolation policies, including financial impacts."