WHITEHORSE — The Yukon government has declared a state of emergency and announced a series of public health rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, including a proof-of-vaccination requirement that's set to take effect this Saturday.
The territory says it is "moving rapidly" to implement a proof-of-vaccination system for a range of settings, including restaurants, ticketed events, fitness facilities and personal services businesses, as well as faith-based and cultural gatherings.
It says the new measures also include mandatory masks in all indoor public settings and outdoor public settings where physical distancing isn't possible, as well as capacity limits on different types of indoor and outdoor gatherings.
While the rules will be enforced starting Nov. 13, the territory says in a statement that Yukoners are "strongly encouraged" to adopt the measures immediately.
It says Yukon's top doctor has recommended avoiding travel between communities, and while schools can remain open, students should wear masks at their desks.
A statement from the acting chief medical officer of health, Dr. Catherine Elliott, says the territory is seeing "dramatic increases in COVID-19 spread" and residents need to pull together now to protect the territory's health-care system.
"Introducing new temporary measures will help limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the strain on our healthcare system. All Yukoners have a role to play in keeping our communities safe," Premier Sandy Silver said in a statement.
The declaration came as Yukon reported 80 new COVID-19 infections diagnosed over a three-day period between Friday and Monday, for a total of 169 active cases.
Of the overall active infections, the territory says 132 are in Whitehorse residents, 20 cases are in Carmarks and four are in Carcross, while Burwash Landing, Pelly Crossing and Teslin each have one resident with an active case of COVID-19.
The new public health measures are set to remain in place until at least Dec. 3.
Starting Saturday, Yukon says personal gatherings will be limited to two households when everyone is vaccinated and one household if anyone is unvaccinated.
Organized gatherings, such as conferences and weddings, will be limited to 25 people with proof of vaccination for events held indoors, while up to 50 people may gather outdoors.
Ticketed events with seating, as well as faith-based and cultural gatherings, will be limited to 50 per cent of the venue's capacity with proof of vaccination required.
People must also show proof of vaccination for table service at bars, restaurants and nightclubs with a limit of six people per table and no moving between tables.
At gyms and fitness studios, high-intensity classes will be suspended and proof of vaccination will be required for low-intensity classes and organized sports.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2021.
The Canadian Press