Strong vaccination support puts Yukon in favourable spot to lift restrictions

·2 min read

WHITEHORSE — Yukon's chief medical officer and its premier say the "strong" vaccine uptake in the territory allows for the relaxation of restrictions not seen elsewhere in Canada.

Dr. Brendan Hanley says 77 per cent of eligible Yukon residents have received their first dose of vaccine and 69 per cent have had a second shot.

He says those figures put Yukon in a favourable position compared with B.C., which has just outlined its reopening plan, and Manitoba, which has been hit hard by a new wave of COVID-19.

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory is "well ahead" of its neighbours when it comes to vaccination and relaxing health restrictions.

Bars and restaurants are now allowed to operate at full capacity with restrictions, while social bubbles can increase to 20 people and weddings, funerals and other events can be held with up to 200 people outdoors.

Vaccination for youth aged 12 to 17 in the territory starts May 31.

Hanley says Yukon is fortunate to be able to lift restrictions.

"We can only be grateful for how well we've done and how much loss and tragedy we've managed to avoid."

Hanley says he believes that residents are less concerned now about the COVID-19 situation.

"There is not the fear that was palpable before when we announced new cases," he says.

Hanley says he hopes COVID-19 case numbers become normalized in the future, and that the public doesn't feel the need to worry about new cases with the protection of vaccination.

Silver says he appreciates recent praise from Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, about Yukon's situation, but adds it doesn't mean residents can relax their vigilance against COVID-19.

Tam recently called Yukon the model that others were looking at for success.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2021.

The Canadian Press