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Yukon makes masks mandatory, as premier says territory now in 2nd wave of COVID-19

Masks will now be mandatory in indoor public places in Yukon, starting Dec. 1.

Rule will apply to all Yukoners over age of 2 starting Dec. 1, with limited exceptions says premier

'It is accurate to say that we are in our second wave,' said Yukon Premier Sandy Silver on Tuesday morning. Starting next Tuesday, non-medical masks will be mandatory in all indoor public places in the territory. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Masks will now be mandatory in indoor public places in Yukon, starting Dec. 1.

Premier Sandy Silver made the announcement Tuesday during the Yukon government's weekly COVID-19 update.

"It is accurate to say that we are in our second wave. Because of this rapid increase in cases, and on the recommendations of [Yukon Chief Medical Officer] Dr. Hanley, we are making masks mandatory," said Silver.

As of Tuesday, the territory has seen 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 12 of them announced since Friday. Two other cases were considered "probable" on Tuesday.

Starting Dec. 1, Silver said it will be mandatory to wear a non-medical mask in all indoor public spaces. Silver defined these spaces as indoor "places where you're providing services to the public."

"This includes shopping centres, service businesses such as mechanics or cleaners, personal care services such as hair salons, common areas in hotels, convention centres, community and recreational centres, public faith gatherings, and other publicly shared spaces," said Silver.

The rules will extend to all Yukoners over the age of two, with very limited exceptions, Silver said.

He said some exemptions will include people with medical conditions which prevent them from wearing masks, people participating in sports, people in private areas of long-term care homes, and anyone eating or drinking in a public restaurant. 

More details are expected in the next week before the rule comes into effect.

Missed Tuesday's news conference? Watch it here:

This adds another precaution to the recommended "safe six" list that the territorial government asks Yukoners to follow. They include keeping physical distance, keeping hands clean, staying at home when feeling sick, avoiding crowds, travelling with respect, and self-isolating if necessary.

"Following the safe six, with the addition of wearing a mask, is the best thing you can do to continue to curb the spread of this disease. The safe six has just got a 'plus one,'" Silver said.

"We are at a turning point, it is time to reset our behaviours and to take extra precautions."

Yukon is the first of the three territories to make masks mandatory in all communities.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley said as of Thursday, Yukon's hospitals will implement recommendations from their office by asking all members of the public to wear a mask when they arrive in the hospital.

"Yukoners can also expect to see hospital employees, physicians, and contractors wearing a mask at all times in all public areas of the workplace."

2 cases in Dawson City, new potential exposure notices issued

Hanley also said one of the two probable cases in the territory announced Monday will likely be confirmed as case 39 later on Tuesday.

Hanley announced six new cases of COVID-19 in the territory on Monday, bringing Yukon's total case count to 38, with 23 recovered and one death.

Hanley also issued several new potential COVID-19 public exposure notices on Tuesday, for Whitehorse and Dawson City:

  • Canadian Tire and the Wykes' Independent grocery store in Whitehorse on Nov. 17.
  • Starbucks on Chilkoot Way in Whitehorse between Nov. 12 and Nov. 18 from opening to closing hours.
  • Tony's Pasta & Seafood House at the Skky Hotel on the Alaska Highway in Whitehorse on Nov. 14 from 5 p.m. to closing hours.
  • Dawson City General Store on Nov. 15 from opening to closing hours.

The notice in Dawson City is something that Hanley said is precautionary.

Health officials say they are not worried about any circulation of COVID-19 in Dawson City, despite a potential exposure notice issued for one local business. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

"Our two out-of-Whitehorse cases are indeed Dawson residents, and one of the cases was in the General Store on that date [Nov. 15]," Hanley said.

He added that they are not concerned about any other public exposure, or worried about any circulation of COVID-19 in Dawson City.

The territorial government also announced several Air North flights that were potential exposure sites:

  • Flight 573, Nov. 15.
  • Flight 333, Nov. 9.
  • Flight 528, Nov. 8.

The government also listed one Air Canada flight as a potential exposure site:

  • Flight 111, Nov. 7.

Cases 35 and 36 were being investigated Monday after the government was made aware of them on Sunday evening, Hanley said. The territory was made aware of cases 37 and 38 on Monday morning, he added. 

Hanley said that one of the cases is an adult staff member of a daycare. He said the situation is "under control" and all the proper precautions have been taken.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the exposure notice in Dawson City was the first outside of Whitehorse. In fact, it is not.
    Nov 25, 2020 9:30 AM CT
  • A previous version of this story identified Flight 111 as an Air North flight. In fact, the flight was with Air Canada.
    Nov 24, 2020 7:58 PM CT

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