Souris store owner dealing with out of province people in his store 'almost daily'
‘We identified them by asking them in the store. We had them leave.’
The owner of a business in Souris, P.E.I. says he's dealing with out of province people in his store "almost daily."
Alan MacPhee, owner of MacPhee's Market, said he hired security to ask customers at the door if they've been out of province and whether they're showing any symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone coming to P.E.I. is expected to self-isolate for 14 days.
MacPhee says sometimes it's truckers showing up, at other times it's temporary foreign workers, but many times it's people heading to the Magdalen Islands.
The province requires anybody travelling to Magdalen Islanders through P.E.I. to self-isolate, which means they are not allowed to stop for gas, for food or to stay overnight. According to provincial health officials visitors are told when they come off the Confederation Bridge that they have to go directly to the ferry terminal, without stopping.
"In Newfoundland, it took one person to infect 140 people and we don't know who that person is going to be or could be, so we have security at the door and we ask people," said MacPhee.
"In Quebec right now, there is a whole bunch of grocery stores shut down and for the sake of our community, for the sake of our employees and for the sake of our business we don't want to be that one. We don't want to be the epicentre of COVID coming to our community."
'We had them leave'
When security identifies anyone from outside P.E.I. they stop them from entering. But last week, they noticed somebody inside the store they didn't recognize.
"We did have an incident [Wednesday] with some travellers from Montreal going to the Magdalen ferry. We identified them by asking them in the store. We had them leave," said MacPhee.
"The people were screened at the bridge and they were told not to come into any stores."
MacPhee said he reported the incident to the chief public health office.
"We're under a directive that if people are in our store and they are not supposed to be, that we report them."
Also, there is a message at the top of the Magdalen ferry service website reminding travellers that passenger service has been suspended.
'Often have a letter of permission'
Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief public health officer, said 15 cars were approved so far this month for essential travel, to drive through P.E.I. to the Magdalen Islands ferry. There have been no cars approved to leave the Magdalen Islands so far during the month of May.
"Individuals who are leaving from their province of Quebec to get to their home in the Magdalen Islands do have permission to do so and they often have a letter of permission," Morrison said during her Friday briefing.
"It is similar to an Islander who may be in Nova Scotia who needs to get home to Prince Edward Island. They need to travel through New Brunswick to get there."
Souris Mayor JoAnne Dunphy wonders why she is seeing so many more out of province vehicles. She said P.E.I. has done well to avoid community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and she doesn't want to see that change.
Dunphy said she's contacted Morrison and the premier's office looking for answers.
"I've certainly heard concerns from a lot of our residents," said Dunphy.
"Yes, there are more cars, more passenger vehicles, going through Souris with out of province licence plates and yes there are more, seems to be more, passenger vehicles going on the ferry."
Traveller fined $1,000
RCMP Sgt. Chris Gunn, acting district commander with Kings District RCMP, said he was not aware of the incident this week at MacPhee's Market. But he said they did fine a traveller $1,000 for entering a local business in Souris a couple of weeks ago.
"The incident that the Kings District RCMP responded to April 30 did involve a traveller that was travelling through the province with an intent to board the ferry in Souris, P.E.I. to head to the Magdalen Islands," he said.
MacPhee said they offer curbside pickup outside their store and even delivery service directly to the ferry terminal.
"We will not see people stuck but we will not permit you in our property."
MacPhee said the travelling public has to take some responsibility to follow the rules they are told when they arrive at the Confederation Bridge.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
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 COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.