PEI

'Painful' adjustments to our lives won't end on May 1, premier says

Phase 1 of P.E.I.'s plan to ease restrictions from COVID-19 will provide hope for Islanders when it begins on Friday, but it doesn't mean it will be a return to normal, Premier Dennis King said during a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.

Premier, chief public health officer say still a long road back to normal

Outdoor gatherings of up to five people will be permitted, but make sure the chairs are spaced at least two metres apart. (Shutterstock/Artazum)

Phase 1 of P.E.I.'s plan to ease restrictions from COVID-19 will provide hope for Islanders when it begins on Friday, but it doesn't mean it will be a return to normal, Premier Dennis King said during a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.

"All of us, we have had to make painful and disruptive adjustments to our lives. I wish I could tell you that that would end on May 1, but that wouldn't be the truth," he said

King said the four-phase plan, announced Tuesday, provides a framework on the "long, slow road back." But he said physical distancing measures must remain in place and Islanders must continue to exercise caution.

"The way we have operated in the past will not be the way we operate for the foreseeable future. The way we have visited our parents and grandparents will be different. We can't greet people with a hug or a kiss or a handshake."

The way we have visited our parents and grandparents will be different. We can't greet people with a hug or a kiss or a handshake.— Premier Dennis King

He said the way sports are played, and the way businesses and restaurants serve their customers will not be the same.

He said government will try to respond to issues as the arise.

King said the situation has been "horrible" for everyone, including his own extended family which includes three bothers, four sisters and dozens of nieces and nephews.

"It pains me that we can't get together right now to have a bonfire and have some laughs like we have done for so many years, but I remain hopeful that that is on the horizon."

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says he wishes he could have bonfires and laughs with his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. (Ken Linton/CBC)

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I. 's chief public health officer, said Islanders will be able to visit their friends and families from different households Friday for the first time since public health measures were put in place more than five weeks ago.

But they must be outdoors, be in groups of no more than five, and must stay at least two metres apart, she said during Wednesday's briefing.

"Some examples could be five friends from different households sitting on a deck together or a family of three visiting their aunt and uncle in their yard or two children stopping by to visit their friends in their driveway," she said.

Morrison said guidance on businesses reopening, including campgrounds and new construction, will be provided in days and weeks ahead.

She said they will continue to update the Renew P.E.I. Together website with specifics. For example, horseback riding has been added to the list of permissible outdoor activities in Phase 1.

Legislature might sit in mid May

Morrison said some things will continue, such as border screenings at entry points into the province. And King said students should not expect to be back in the classroom this school year. King said it's possible the empty schools could be used as added space for child-care centres when they begin to open in Phase 2, which begins May 22.

Morrison said some emergency dental services could also begin in Phase 2.

King said he has spoken to the other political parties about having a one-day legislative session around the middle of May to discuss a preliminary budget and pass some immediate legislation, then a broader session in the summer.

"The clerk of the legislature has got out his measuring tape and if we were to remove the media gallery and the public gallery in the Coles Building that could adequately house 27 members safely."

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Malcolm Campbell

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