PEI

Don't expect bigger COVID-19 bubble 'any time soon': P.E.I. premier

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says he is comfortable with Islanders travelling around Atlantic Canada and vice versa, but he is not seriously considering expanding beyond that yet.

‘We are comfortable right now with the Atlantic bubble’

'As Dr. Morrison says, as of today, we feel very comfortable with our ability to contain and to deal with the limited number of cases that are here, but we continue to re-evaluate every day,' Premier Dennis King said. (CBC)

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says he is comfortable with Islanders travelling around Atlantic Canada and vice versa, but he is not seriously considering expanding beyond that yet.

The Atlantic bubble, a zone of travel in Atlantic Canada that lets people move around without self-isolating, opened on July 3.

At a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said the bubble is working well. There are still checkpoints at provincial borders, but most people have already filled out the forms they need to enter by the time they reach them.

About 38,000 people have entered the province since the bubble opened, Morrison said.

As of today, we feel very comfortable with our ability to contain and to deal with the limited number of cases that are here, but we continue to re-evaluate every day.- P.E.I. Premier Dennis King

"From the beginning of our conversations around Atlantic bubble ... we've been letting the public health information dictate," King said at the same briefing.

"As Dr. Morrison says, as of today, we feel very comfortable with our ability to contain and to deal with the limited number of cases that are here, but we continue to re-evaluate every day."

The Department of Tourism reports about 353,000 people visited P.E.I. last July. With an estimated 38,000 visitors over the course of about one-third of the same month this year, people are visiting at a rate of about one-third of the normal rate. 

King said his conversation with Morrison regarding opening beyond Atlantic Canada was brief, and they both felt no need to consider it seriously at it until at least Aug. 1.

Hospital-linked cases a factor in caution

The Prince Edward Island premier said two recent COVID-19 cases connected to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown may have put those discussions off even further.

"I don't think we would be looking beyond the Atlantic bubble any time soon," he said.

"Events such as what we're dealing with at the QEH give us cause for even further pause. We are comfortable right now with the Atlantic bubble. We remain very, very concerned about the Canadian-U.S. border and maintaining that."

On Sunday, a new case of COVID-19 on P.E.I. was confirmed, involving a Queen's County woman in her 80s. On Monday, the province announced that was connected to a medical worker who had recently travelled to PEI from Toronto before working seven shifts at the QEH emergency department.

No new cases were announced Tuesday in connection with those two cases.

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