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Yukon extends state of emergency, maintains travel bubble with B.C.

The Yukon government has again extended its state of emergency, saying it's necessary to be able to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

'It is best to stay where we are,' said Chief Medical Officer Brendan Hanley

'We really don't know what lies ahead of us, and we need the ability to respond quickly,' said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Government of Yukon)

The Yukon government has again extended its state of emergency, saying it's necessary to be able to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

"As long as the pandemic continues to pose a risk to the health, safety and livelihoods of Yukoners, we may continue to extend it until other options become available," said Community Services Minister John Streicker at a news conference on Wednesday.

Officials did not say how long the extension would be. The last 90-day extension was announced in June and was set to expire on Thursday.

Streicker said the state of emergency allows the government to enforce self-isolation requirements and border declarations, among other measures meant to reduce risk.

"We are not out of the woods yet," Streicker said.

He also said that Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) is outdated, meaning that many measures required ministerial orders in order to be enacted.

"As we've worked through it with the various departments, we can see that [CEMA] didn't really anticipate a pandemic like COVID[-19]. So there's definitely things that need to be improved in the legislation," he said.

Travel bubble with B.C. to remain in place

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Hanley also said Wednesday that the state of emergency must remain in place, "at least for the next little while."

"We really don't know what lies ahead of us, and we need the ability to respond quickly in the event that some unexpected event does happen," he said.

"We only have to look to Ontario and B.C. to see changes they recently had to make."

In B.C., health officials on Tuesday announced 429 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the province over the long weekend, bringing the total to 6,591.

A number of exposure events at nightlife venues caused that province to amend public health orders on Tuesday, representing the first time B.C. has significantly pulled back on steps that had been taken to reopen the province since May.

And Ontario on Tuesday paused its reopening plan in response to rising case numbers.

Still, Hanley said despite the case numbers elsewhere, he is not reconsidering Yukon's travel bubble with B.C. and the other territories. Nor is he considering extending the bubble to include other jurisdictions, he said.

"It is best to stay where we are," he said.

With files from Michelle Ghoussoub

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