Reopening plan for P.E.I. coming next week, premier says
Premier hopeful that Atlantic bubble can open up in June
Islanders should learn more next week about the province's plans to reopen following the latest public health measures.
The premier provided a few hints at what that plan may include during a meeting with business leaders in Charlottetown Wednesday.
"We really want to give some kind of a blueprint for Islanders and Island businesses … to let them know what the summer could and should look like," Premier Dennis King said.
"This time last year we rolled out the safe restart plan and our intention would be to [introduce] safe restart 2.0, essentially."
There's so many factors that are in place.— Premier Dennis King
This hinges on the hope that more people will get vaccinated, and that COVID-19 variants and the third wave elsewhere in Canada will be manageable.
King said that plan, or blueprint, is expected to come by the middle or end of next week. Additionally, King said he hopes the Atlantic bubble can open sometime in the coming weeks.
"We're really really hopeful that it's sometime in early June that we can begin that and also, you know, when it's safe to do so, to bring our seasonal residents and our family reunification streams back online," he said.
"Hopeful, and planning, but there's so many factors that are in place here."
The premier said it's still undetermined when P.E.I. would open to the rest of Canada.
Could be 'more challenging summer' for some businesses
Penny Walsh-McGuire, CEO with the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, said this plan is a priority for "all businesses and for families looking to reunite with those who aren't in the province."
She said she hopes the plan has guidance for businesses during the summer months, especially those hardest hit by the pandemic.
Walsh-McGuire said government supports will need to continue into the summer.
"We're very pleased to hear that the premier is lobbying for things like the continuation … of the Canadian emergency relief fund for wages and for rent," she said.
"This could be a more challenging summer for businesses than even 2020, depending on what travel restrictions are in place."
She said there is a lot of uncertainty heading into the summer and "any certainty that we can give businesses in terms of going forward will be really helpful."
'They need to know what to expect'
Colin Younker, a member of the chamber who has businesses in Charlottetown, said it's been "a roller-coaster of a year" for businesses, and a reopening plan is critical for the summer.
"They need to know what to expect, and how they can put their plans into motion," he said.
"We look forward to seeing that and we're excited that that plan is in the works. We're hoping it'll be good news for Island business."
Younker said this summer will likely look similar to last summer, and hopes government supports stay in place — especially for harder hit sectors.
"It'll be very important for the survival of those businesses."
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With files from Wayne Thibodeau