As COVID-19 restrictions eased, Morrison urges Islanders to 'think small' over holiday
One new case announced, man who travelled from Toronto to visit family for holidays
Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison have announced an easing of COVID-19 restrictions including larger gatherings, more visitors in long-term care homes and a resumption of organized sports.
They made the announcement Thursday during an unscheduled briefing.
"Though Islanders have earned some relief through their hard work and commitment, this is not the time to stop," King reminded the province.
The restrictions will ease Friday at 8 a.m. and the changes will last until Jan. 11. The new measures include:
- A household can welcome 10 additional people for a private gathering. Morrison said the 10 people should "be as consistent as possible and physical distancing maintained as much as possible."
- Restaurants may offer dining room service again, but must close by 11 p.m. and capacity will be reduced.
- Recreational and organized sports can resume, but tournaments are banned.
- Residents in long-term care may have two partners in care each plus up to six additional visitors in assigned areas.
- Organized gatherings such as church services and concerts may resume with a maximum of 50 people plus a second cohort of 50 if there is an approved operational plan.
- Weddings and funerals may now have 50 people in attendance.
- Gyms, museums, craft fairs, markets and retail establishments can operate at 50 per cent of normal capacity.
With increased travel during the holidays, Morrison said she still expects to see more cases of COVID-19 on P.E.I. in the coming weeks.
Circuit breaker measures eased early
This is an early easing of the "circuit-breaker" restrictions imposed after an outbreak of 11 cases on Dec. 5-6. Officials still have not been able to determine the cause of that outbreak, which affected a cluster of people primarily in their 20s.
P.E.I. has had no new cases since Saturday, Dec. 12, when five cases related to travel were announced.
King and Morrison said the lack of new cases showed that the restrictions, which had eliminated all public and private gatherings and saw thousands of people in their 20s tested in the Charlottetown area, had been successful in stemming the early-December outbreak.
Morrison did announce one new unrelated case on P.E.I. Thursday, a man in his 30s who travelled to P.E.I. on Air Canada flight 7462 on Dec. 13 from Toronto to visit family for the holidays. Morrison urged anyone on that flight to monitor themselves for symptoms.
Morrison applauded the man's decision to self-isolate in a location away from family, even though he was asymptomatic.
The chief public health officer also urged Islanders to "think small, think consistent, think careful, be careful" over the holidays, acknowledging that Christmas will be different for many this year.
"I am confident Islanders will comply," she said, while admitting she is nervous.
"For saving Christmas, thank you and thank all your staff," King told Morrison at the end of the news conference. "That's wonderful."
P.E.I. has confirmed a total of 90 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with no deaths or hospitalizations. As of midday Thursday, 17 cases were considered active.
The province kicked off its vaccination program Wednesday, with health-care workers first in line for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Reminder of COVID-19 symptoms
The symptoms of COVID-19 can include:
- Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
- Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
- Sore throat.
- New or worsening fatigue.
- Shortness of breath.
- Runny nose.