HALIFAX -- It has been 45 days since Prince Edward Island last reported a new case of COVID-19 and 34 days since all cases on the island have been recovered.

“We have not had any hospitalizations, no deaths, no outbreaks, and this is really something that we should all be pleased about,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, Prince Edward Island’s chief medical officer of health, in a news conference Thursday.

In total, the province has conducted more than 8,200 COVID-19 tests, with over 330 negative tests since Tuesday.

Morrison announced Thursday that Prince Edward Island will move to phase four of its reopening plan on Friday, June 26.

“While there are still pieces of this phase being determined, there are some parts that I think might be nice for people to know about today,” said Morrison.

“We are working for more opportunities for visits at long-term care facilities and some of these will be able to be indoors. I know there are meetings about this happening even today.”

Phase four will also permit:

  • Up to 50 people for team and organized sports
  • Up to 50 people for small festivals and events
  • An increase in personal services, for things like facials and electrolysis
  • The opening of VLTs and casinos

“It is important to note that the change to 50 is for organized events, churches, funerals, and weddings, but the personal gatherings of 15 indoor, 20 outdoor, will not change,” said Morrison.

“We continue to assess the gathering limits for organizations and activities on a regular basis. On that note, an invitation is going out today, if it hasn’t already, to a large number of faith leaders across the province to discuss faith-based gatherings and the numbers and situation as we go into this new phase.”

Morrison emphasized the importance of sticking to the basics. With a gathering of any size, people should remember to practise physical distancing, hand hygiene, and not attending if you are sick.

“The intent behind all of it is to keep gatherings small, because if there was a case of COVID-19 within a gathering, it can spread quickly,” she said.

“We’ve learned that, we’ve seen that all over the country and around the world. With larger groups, it is more difficult to do contact tracing and, in turn, more difficult to contain the virus.”

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said Wednesday that the Atlantic premiers are committed to working toward a bubble, to provide safe and efficient travel throughout the region without the need to self-isolate.

“This could happen as early as the first week of July,” said Morrison.

“This would continue to mean that those travelling from provinces outside of the Atlantic region would still need to self-isolate at this time.”

For those with families outside of Atlantic Canada, Morrison says her office is working on a process that would allow families to apply to be together. However, those coming from outside of Atlantic Canada would still need to self-isolate for a 14-day period.

As Islanders head into another weekend, Morrison is encouraging them to be safe.

“We are extremely fortunate here on P.E.I., and in the last few weeks we are gathering in small groups, we’re visiting more at long-term care, we are able to eat out at a restaurant and have access to personal services, but it is important that we do not take this lightly,” she said. “We don’t want to forget the basics. Let’s think about others and how we protect others, and let’s be patient, let’s be kind.”