PEI

Province looking at alternatives after announcing liquor, cannabis closures due to COVID-19

P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Heather Morrison says government is now looking at alternate ways for Islanders to access liquor and cannabis products, after previously announcing stores would close Thursday because of COVID-19.

'Perhaps we underestimated that alcohol is considered essential for some people'

Lines formed at P.E.I. liquor and cannabis retail stores a day ahead of COVID-19-related closures. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Heather Morrison says government is now looking at alternate ways for Islanders to access liquor and cannabis products, after previously announcing stores would close Thursday because of COVID-19.

In a briefing Wednesday, Morrison said she was "disappointed in Islanders' response" to an announcement earlier in the day that government-owned liquor and cannabis stores were considered non-essential, and therefore would be closing Thursday at 2 p.m.

Following the announcement, people began lining up outside of cannabis and retail locations within close proximity to one other.

"I'm disappointed in Islanders' response in the last three hours," Morrison said at a 5 p.m. news conference.

"We have talked about social distancing, we have talked about the importance of staying at home unless it's essential and that appears to have been ignored in the last three hours."

She said the province is working on other ways for people to purchase cannabis and liquor, such as possibly drive-up or online service. She promised more details Thursday.

"Perhaps we underestimated that alcohol is considered essential for some people," she said.

Earlier in the day, Morrison said she "advised cabinet ... that liquor and cannabis stores are not considered essential." 

Morrison asked that non-essential businesses close until further notice. There are 17 government-owned liquor and cannabis stores across P.E.I. 

When asked about the possible implications of closing liquor stores for those with severe alcohol addictions, Morrison said that factored into the decision to not close stores immediately.

"It's a balancing act, but we know alcohol is not considered an essential service at this time, and we are going to try and give some time until tomorrow," she said. 

Security was at stores following the announcement to limit the number of people permitted in at one time. 

The closure does not apply to breweries in the province, nor to agency liquor store locations at Wood Islands, Murray Harbour, Morell, Kinkora, Eldon, East Royalty, Wellington and Cavendish. 

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More from CBC P.E.I.

About the Author

Nicole Williams is a video journalist with CBC P.E.I. She previously worked as an associate producer with CBC News in Toronto.

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