P.E.I. prepares for next phase of reopening and possibility of 'Atlantic bubble'
CHARLOTTETOWN -- As talks continue on the possibility of allowing regional travel throughout Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island is set to enter the next phase of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.
P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, said Tuesday Phase 4 of the Renew PEI Together plan goes into effect Friday.
That means indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed for such things as weddings, funerals and graduations.
Larger facilities, however, will be able to accommodate up to two groups of 50 people, as long as the two groups are kept separate. Venues that wish to welcome 100 people at one time will need to submit an operational plan to public health authorities first.
"They could have multiple gatherings of two groups of 50, totalling 100 at one time, as long as the groups can be separate and not mixed," Morrison said Tuesday.
Phase 4 also includes the reopening of more companies that provide personal services including facials, nose piercings and teeth whitening.
Residents of long-term care facilities under Phase 4 can receive up to two visitors at once, as long as the visits are scheduled in advance. Public and private long-term care homes will also open up more access for clergy.
Morrison, however, cautions that people still need to do the basics to protect themselves.
"Social distancing with hand hygiene, not going out when you are sick, enhanced cleaning and keeping separate if someone is staying at your home that is self-isolating," she said.
Morrison said the four Atlantic premiers and her counterparts in the region continue their discussions on an "Atlantic bubble" that would open up provincial borders within Atlantic Canada.
She said if the bubble becomes a reality this summer, anyone coming from outside the region will still need to self-isolate for 14 days.
"Screening would still continue at the bridge, ferry terminals, the airport and other points of entry to ensure that those needing to self-isolate have the support to do so and that everyone is well aware of our restrictions," she said.
She said there are currently 979 people in self-isolation on P.E.I. and over 6,300 have completed self-isolation.
The Island has had just 27 cases of COVID-19 and all have recovered.
-- By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2020.