PEI

What Phase 4 means for gatherings on P.E.I.

Here are some of the bigger changes for life on P.E.I. as Phase 4 of the lifting of pandemic restrictions starts.

Bigger gatherings, more personal services

'Seating will be more regulated,' says Father Keith Kennific, of St. Dunstan's Basilica. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Phase 4 has begun across P.E.I. and with it, come some big changes to how many people can gather in one spot. Larger public gatherings are allowed, there are more personal services, and casinos are opening.

Beginning Friday, indoor and outdoor organized gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed. If a space is large enough, gatherings can increase to 100 people, as long as physical distancing between individuals who do not live in the same household is maintained.

This applies to organized worship services, organized sports, day camps and events, like weddings and small live music shows.

That means religious institutions can expand the number of people allowed to attend each service. During P.E.I.'s Phase 3, gatherings of up to 15 people were permitted to attend a religious service but a handful of Island church officials decided to close their doors until the province expanded the number. 

St. Dunstan's Basilica in Charlottetown began holding mass on weekdays of up to 15 people on June 1. 

"Catholic people are very attached to the celebration of the Eucharist and we wanted to make that available," said Father Keith Kennific, director at St. Dunstan's. 

Since the beginning of June, about 60 people have been attending mass, rotating in groups of 15. Kennific said the eased restrictions are going to broaden what has been occurring already. 

'We wouldn't do it until we were ready,' says Kennific. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

"Seating will be more regulated. The singing will be minimized. There will be no offering procession, no procession with the gifts. There will be no collection taken up. People will be invited to make their offerings as they come in or as they go out," said Kennific. 

Access to hymn books will no longer be available. 

Kennific said all public health requirements will be followed including additional cleaning, registering and physical distancing. 

The first weekend mass will be held on Saturday July 4 during the afternoon followed by a Sunday mass on July 5. Those attending are asked to register ahead of time. 

Support for the arts

At the Trailside Music Hall, online tickets are selling quickly. The independent music café run by Pat and Meghan Deighan is hosting its first live performance of the year at a temporary location on the third floor of the Holman Grand Hotel in The Confederation Court Mall. 

"We're probably just as excited as our patrons to you know actually take in some live music and have someone perform and yeah just not have that screen in between you and the performance and the music," said Meghan. 

Trailside Music Hall was meant to open in its new permanent location in The Arts Hotel this summer but COVID-19 restrictions delayed construction on the hotel. Meghan said the business will eventually move to The Arts Hotel later this year. 

'It's been a long wait to get everything up and running,' says Meghan Deighan. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

With its new opening, come new rules. 

The event is permitted to hold up to 50 people, including staff, under the new public health restrictions. For each live performance, one performer is allowed on stage and the seating has been arranged to maintain a two-metre distance between patrons. 

Trailside Music Hall will be producing live shows throughout the summer. Meghan said tickets for weekly shows have been selling quickly online. 

"It says people are anxious to get out and take in the arts and you know, be with friends and family," said Meghan. 

The games begin

While recreational sports were allowed  to be played at the beginning of June, only 20 people were permitted to play at one time.

Randy Byrne, executive director of Baseball P.E.I., said that number limited what teams could do on the field. But now with numbers expanding to 50 people, games can begin.

'We can play actual baseball games,' says Randy Byrne of Baseball P.E.I. (John Robertson/CBC)

"We can play actual baseball games," said Byrne. "Everybody in the baseball community on Prince Edward Island is pretty excited." 

But, modifications are being made both on the field and in the stands. 

"Parents of the home team, unless they're a coach or a scorekeeper, they'll have to either watch from their car or drop their child off and pick them up after and one parent per player on the away team is permitted to be at the field and watch," said Byrne. 

Exhibition games are being played Friday, but the first official game of the season is scheduled for June 29.

The new gathering limits also apply to events like weddings and funerals. 

In addition, long-term care facilities are permitted to host indoor visitations.  

More from CBC P.E.I. 

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