HALIFAX -- As Prince Edward Island moves ahead with its plan to continue easing restrictions, Premier Dennis King is facing criticism for the decision to allow non-resident property owners to return to the island.

Since Monday, more than 700 have applied and could start returning to P.E.I. as early as June 15.

An online petition opposes that plan and some islanders have expressed anger towards King.

“I’m the premier, so you always bare the brunt of concern,” he said during an interview with CTV Atlantic anchor Steve Murphy on Wednesday.

“I do think we live in a significant period right now, where people are concerned. There are so many unknowns and when we don’t know the path forward we get worried and we get afraid. I’ve been saying for a few days that anger is a very close cousin to fear, but I do feel that we have a good solid plan. We’ve been following the same plan all along and we want to do this as safely as possible and get our seasonal residents home to P.E.I.”

According to King, approximately 6,000 people have come to P.E.I. since March 13, all of whom had to self-isolate for 14 days.

“We have a very strict program in place and we are using that same plan, along with a modified plan to make a path for our seasonal residents,” says King.

“The plan has been working really, really well and I think we’re the envy of the rest of the country because of a plan such as that. We feel we’re in a good position, with the support of our chief public health office, to do this on a staggered approach and we will continue down that road.”

There has been some discussion of opening the borders for travel within Atlantic Canada. King says those conversations are continuing at the premier and public health levels.

“That’s a goal that we hold and hope to get to. I think we will need to continue to do screening at our points of entry and reminding those coming to P.E.I., for example, that they would need to be practising social distancing and doing all the things that they need to do. Reminding them if they are ill to stay home and get tested, and all those things. We continue to look at how we can do this and we haven’t figured it out yet,” says King.

“The situation in New Brunswick is a reminder for all of us that COVID is here. COVID hasn’t magically disappeared, even if some of the caseloads in our province have been lower.”

King says he believes and hopes that Atlantic Canadians will be able to move more freely, without self-isolation, throughout the region at some point this summer. However, he says many questions remain on how to get there.