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Yukon premier says territory’s COVID-19 state of emergency will be lifted

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Yukon will lift its civil state of emergency put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic as it shifts to targeting specific outbreaks, Premier Sandy Silver said Wednesday.

He said certain health measures, like mask-wearing and physical distancing, remain important preventive measures but will no longer be legally mandated as of midnight.

“It’s time to minimize the impacts of broad, restrictive public health controls as we mitigate the risk of infection,” he told a news conference.

Read more: Yukon says masks not required indoors amid easing of COVID-19 restrictions

The territory has released a six-pillar plan to manage its response to the virus. They include increasing vaccination, continued testing and tracing to curb outbreaks, along with supports for vulnerable people.

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The territory is also leaving open the possibility of reintroducing some emergency measures if there is a surge in COVID-19 cases, similar to what was seen earlier in the summer, Silver added.

Yukon saw a surge of cases largely tied to an outbreak in June, and has reported two cases of the Delta variant.

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Despite rising numbers of Delta variant cases across the country, and neighbouring British Columbia bringing back some health measures, Silver said he’s confident the territory will be able to change its response quickly if it’s necessary.

“We are all in very different situations,” he said. “We’re comfortable in the alternative methods to manage the pandemic.”

Dr. Catherine Elliott, the territory’s acting chief medical officer of health, said despite emergency measures being lifted, the territory will be able to handle the Delta variant.

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“I am confident that we have the tools to respond to Delta when it becomes part of COVID transmission in Yukon,” she said.

Read more: Yukon declares state of emergency in Southern Lakes region due to high water levels

Elliott added that it can be hard to compare health restrictions of different jurisdictions, as each has their own differences in pandemic approaches and methods for limiting the spread of the virus.

The territory reported two new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 36.

More than 80 per cent of eligible Yukon residents 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated.

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