PEI

Regional bubble for pandemic travel still 6-8 weeks away, says Morrison

Prince Edward Islanders looking to travel to the mainland without having to self-isolate on return will have to remain patient, says P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison.

Public health officials watching spread of variant strains

Officials at the Confederation Bridge checkpoint will be continuing to advise Islanders that they must self-Isolate when returning to P.E.I. (Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

Prince Edward Islanders looking to travel to the mainland without having to self-isolate on return will have to remain patient, says P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison.

Under current pandemic restrictions, with few exceptions anyone arriving from out of province must self-isolate for two weeks.

The number of new cases reported in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick has fallen significantly in the last week. Both provinces reported just one new case Monday.

But Morrison expressed concern about new variant strains of coronavirus being imported into the region, in particular given how quickly a new variant spread in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

"They indicated the variant strain spreads like wildfire and that many of the young people who were positive had very mild if any symptoms of COVID-19," she said.

Morrison described the risk of a variant being imported to P.E.I. as significant.

"The latest longer-range forecasting model that accounts for non-variant and new variants of concern forecasts a strong resurgence in Canada unless a combination of enhanced public health measures and strict adherence to individual precautions is maintained," she said.

Not before April

Given those risks, Morrison said she and other officials will continue to watch over the coming weeks to see if conditions change, and allow for the opening up of a regional bubble.

She gave a timeframe of six to eight weeks, adding it is not possible now to put a firm date on the opening of any regional bubble.

She said while she understands people are growing tired of pandemic restrictions, now is the time to buckle down and hope for a better summer.

P.E.I. was in a travel bubble with the rest of Atlantic Canada from July through most of November, when a resurgence of COVID-19 cases prompted a closing of the borders once again.

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