P.E.I. government to reopen 2 more liquor stores
'To address the needs of Islanders at risk of alcohol withdrawal symptoms'
The government of P.E.I. announced Monday that both the West Royalty and Stratford liquor stores will be reopening Tuesday.
The province previously closed all of the Island's government-run liquor stores on March 19, deeming it to be a non-essential service. Since then, officials have reopened one in Charlottetown, as well as stores in Montague, Summerside, O'Leary and Souris, plus now West Royalty and Stratford.
In a news release sent Monday afternoon, officials said this is being done to "address the needs of Islanders at risk of alcohol withdrawal symptoms."
On March 18, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison said she was "disappointed in Islanders' response" to the announcement that the liquor and cannabis stores would be closing the next day, as Islanders immediately began lining up outside of cannabis and liquor stores in close proximity to one another.
The next day, Morrison clarified that the intention of the closure was not to leave alcohol-dependent people without access.
"We would never leave Islanders without access to alcohol for their own health," she said, noting that several agency stores across the province remained open to sell alcohol.
Using alcohol to manage stress
Morrison has since expressed that she worries about an increase in alcohol and drug use during the pandemic.
"This is a real time for anxiety and this is an environment where we're really anxious and we know people may be using alcohol, for instance, to try to manage that anxiety," Morrison said.
"We wanted to make sure people realize that there are some resources out there that they could reach out to."
The original closures did 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.
The province also changed rules to allow the agency stores and breweries to deliver, and to allow restaurants to sell alcohol with take-out meals.
P.E.I.'s cannabis stores have not reopened, but have products available through their online store with changes for easier access.
All of the province's reopened liquor stores are operating on a reduced schedule of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday with an additional 10 to 11 a.m. shopping hour for seniors and those with compromised immunity.
Government did not hold a COVID-19 news briefing on Monday.
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With files from Nicole Williams