PEI

P.E.I. announces 4 new COVID-19 cases; restrictions on schools, restaurants, shopping

Prince Edward Island has decided that restaurants will be shut to indoor dining, organized sports will be suspended and libraries and gyms will close for at least the next two weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Restaurants shut to indoor dining, organized sports suspended, libraries closed

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, says she is expecting more positive cases connected to this weekend's cluster. The four cases announced on Sunday — three women in their 20s and one in her 30s — are connected to the three cases from Saturday. (Prince Edward Island Government/Facebook)

Prince Edward Island is imposing sweeping new public health measures after four new cases of COVID-19 were announced Sunday.

The four cases — three women in their 20s and one in her 30s — are connected to the three announced on Saturday. The province now has 11 active cases and 80 in total.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King has asked all Islanders in the Capital Region between the ages of 20 and 29 to get tested, even if they have no symptoms.

Four high schools — Charlottetown Rural, Colonel Gray, Bluefield and École François-Buote — will move to remote learning this week in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Other schools and daycares will continue to operate as usual.

This situation does suggest there is community spread of COVID-19 in P.E.I.— Dr. Heather Morrison

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, said the source of the current outbreak is not known.

"The sharp increase in cases in the past 36 hours and the fact there is no connection to recent out-of-province travel is concerning," Morrison said. "This situation does suggest there is community spread of COVID-19 in P.E.I."

Besides the A&W and Wendy's restaurants on University Avenue in Charlottetown, two additional public exposure locations related to the outbreak were identified on Sunday: Dollarama in the Charlottetown Mall, on Dec. 3 from 4:30-10:30 p.m. and on Dec. 5 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.; and Walmart in Charlottetown, on Dec. 3 from 2-3 p.m. and 6-7 p.m.

For at least the next two weeks, restaurants will be closed to indoor dining. All recreational and team sports will be suspended, and gyms, libraries, bingo halls and casinos will be closed.

Personal services will remain open but only with appointments.

Private gatherings not permitted

Private gatherings are not permitted, Morrison said. A household can only associate with two people outside of their household. People who live alone can form a bubble with another household.

Public gatherings, such as funerals and faith-based services, will be limited to 10 people, excluding staff.

People are encouraged to go out only if necessary. Retail stores will need to reduce their capacity by about 50 per cent, Morrison said.

People in long-term care can have one designated visitor.

'Need the help of all Islanders'

Morrison and King said it is not easy to announce the restrictions, and they hope the measures can be lifted by Dec. 21. Much will depend how many new cases develop and whether the sources of the current active cases can be tracked.

"We need the help of all Islanders to ensure adherence to these new measures and restrictions," Morrison said.

"In addition, we will be stepping up enforcement efforts across the province. The public should know that in the event there is a personal or organized gathering that exceeds the limits, there will be a fine issued to every person in attendance and not just the host."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Ross is a former newspaper and TV journalist in Halifax, Ottawa and Charlottetown. He joined CBC P.E.I.'s web team in 2016.

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