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'Wake the heck up': P.E.I. premier frustrated by Islanders who aren’t following the rules
HALIFAX -- The premier of Prince Edward Island is among the tens of thousands of Canadians who have spent time in self-isolation after a family trip to the United States.
Dennis King had been leading his government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic from his home in Brookfield, P.E.I. Now that his 14-day self-isolation period over, he has returned to his office in Charlottetown.
King says he finds it hard to explain why some Islanders are not abiding by the rules set forth by the government and health officials during the pandemic.
“It is really frustrating and it boggles my mind that individuals still don’t get it,” says King.
“Is there a sense that people think this is a disease that comes from somewhere else, that Islanders are somehow immune? I can’t imagine that’s the case … I think you’d have to be living under a rock to not understand the importance of what we’re doing. If you look at how our life has changed in the last two-and-a-half weeks, I mean, what more evidence would you need?”
Summerside Police issued P.E.I.'s first ticket for violating a public health order in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday.
After being warned twice in one day by police, a Summerside man was fined $1,000 for failing to self-isolate upon returning to the Island.
King says the province is very serious about the enforcement of self-isolation and physical-distancing.
“I hope the message landed today that this is real … the time for education is over, the time for enforcement is now,” says King.
“Lives are at stake here. People are carrying this and maybe they don’t know it. Nobody on Prince Edward Island wants to make somebody sick. Nobody wants to lead to somebody’s death. So it is time for everyone to wake the heck up here and take this seriously and that’s the message we’ve been putting forward for days now and will continue to do so.”
King says the next 14 days are key in knowing whether physical-distancing is working and flattening the curve on Prince Edward Island.
“Most of our Islanders who have been out of the country or travelling internationally are now home and now we are going to see if they have taken the self-isolation directive as seriously as they needed to and we are really, really confident and hopeful that they have, but I think this is a really tricky time for us, these next number of days,” says King.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Tuesday that a shortage of medical supplies such as N95 masks – which are key in the fight by health-care workers against the spread of COVID-19 – is the province's "top priority" at the moment.
Legault said Quebec could run out of key medical supplies in three to seven days -- concerns King shares for his province.
“We’ve reached out to all the professional organizations within Prince Edward Island who have stepped up to help and we are working with our counterparts in Ottawa and beyond. It is a big worry. We are good for the short-term, but like my friend and colleague Francois in Quebec, this is something that keeps me awake every single day, it makes me wake up in cold sweats every night, and we are working hard to make sure that the (personal protective equipment) that is required is here and will continue to be,” says King.
Dr. Heather Morrison, chief health officer for Prince Edward Island, is urging those with cottages on P.E.I. to refrain from coming to the island until COVID-19 has subsided – a message echoed by the premier
“Anybody who is crossing that bridge for an essential purpose to come to Prince Edward Island, we need to know that you need to self-isolate for 14 days and, if you are coming here for the first time, because of this we need to know that you have some support systems in place to get your groceries, to help you do the things that you need to do so you can self-isolate,” says King.
“It’s a fine line that we are trying to walk. We do every year ask people to come play on our island, to come to Prince Edward Island, and there is lots of people who have made their home here for half or part of the year and they want to get back to here.”