Potential COVID-19 exposure in Dawson City 'bit of an eye-opener,' says business owner

·2 min read

A Dawson City, Yukon, business owner says he was surprised on Tuesday to hear of a COVID-19 potential exposure notice for his store, just before it was announced publicly.

"[The Yukon government] gave us a phone call this morning. Maybe around 9:15 a.m., or 9:30 a.m. or so, not too long before the press release came out. Probably minutes," said Kyler Mather, owner of the Dawson City General Store, on Tuesday.

Mather's store is the first potential exposure site identified outside of Whitehorse. Anybody who was at the store on Nov. 15 between opening and closing hours, and develops symptoms, is asked to get tested.

The announcement came at Tuesday morning's COVID-19 briefing with Yukon's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. Hanley also confirmed there were two cases in Dawson.

Mather said the news came as a shock to him.

"Nothing had been formally announced that there was any cases in any of the communities or in Dawson so it was a little bit of an eye-opener," he said.

Google
Google

No extra information was provided to Mather by officials.

Mather understands that the government is overwhelmed with the growing number of cases in Yukon, but he wishes he had a bit more information.

"More notice would have been better and any more information, right? Maybe a bit more of a detailed time of when the individual was in the store."

'Well-prepared for it'

Mather says his store has had safety measures in place since March.

"All of these measures are in place to prevent any kind of spread in this exact scenario. I kind of feel that we're well-prepared for it," he said.

Measures include two different hand washing stations in the store, plexiglass at cash registers, arrows on the floor to direct customers, and mandatory masks for all employees.

Mather says that he will be following the government protocols but the store will also continue with its own internal protocols to keep everyone safe.

Mather thanked Dawsonites for their support and said he's happy to live in a community like Dawson.

Mayor Wayne Potoroka says he's impressed by the local adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.

Dave Croft/CBC
Dave Croft/CBC

"I'm especially impressed with the leadership a lot of local businesses have showed by just implementing the measures they have, to keep themselves and their customers safe. That includes the General Store, by the way," Potoroka said.

Potoroka said that he himself was at the General Store on Nov. 15, the day identified in the potential exposure notice.

He said he's not too worried.

"According to my credit card, I was at the General Store three different times on November 15th. I'm not really concerned. As long as we all take those steps to protect ourselves, then we'll be OK."