Non-essential businesses on P.E.I. should close immediately in wake of COVID-19, says Morrison

In her daily briefing Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison asked non-essential businesses to close until further notice. Government-run liquor and cannabis stores will be closing as of 2 p.m. Thursday.  

Government-run liquor and cannabis stores will be closed beginning 2 p.m. Thursday

Dr. Heather Morrison continues to urge Islanders to eliminate all non-essential activity. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison has asked that non-essential businesses close until further notice. Government-run liquor and cannabis stores will close as of 2 p.m. Thursday.  

Morrison made the announcement in Charlottetown Wednesday in her daily briefing to update Islanders on the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, the briefings were closed to reporters, who instead phoned in their questions to Morrison when she had finished making her statement.

The province said the closure does not apply to agency liquor stores locations at Wood Islands, Murray Harbour, Morell, Kinkora, Eldon, East Royalty, Wellington and Cavendish.  

"Those who are self-isolating need to [continue to] self-isolate," she said. 

Morrison said P.E.I. still only has one confirmed case of COVID-19. 

She said all hair salons, tattoo parlours, malls, fitness facilities and gyms and any spaces intended for public gatherings will close immediately.

Morrison said security will be added at cannabis and liquor stores to limit the number of customers permitted in at one time, to allow for social distancing. Long lines formed at several stores almost immediately after the news of the closures went public.

Pharmacies will remain open and will be able to provide prescriptions if they're on file. This does not include opioids. 

"Food banks will remain open, this is essential as we continue to support individuals and families who are most in need," Morrison said. 

The province says the closure announcement does not apply to "agency" liquor stores. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

'Living so differently'

Morrison said the province is developing an online self-assessment online tool that may help alleviate some of the pressures on the 811 line. 

"We're living so differently than we have before," she said. 

These are all parts of trying to keep connected through a really challenging time. ​​​​​— Dr. Heather Morrison

"I'm asking Islanders to support each other in this difficult time but to do it in a way other than person to person, and although we can't be together in person that doesn't mean we can't connect."

She said dropping food off to a neighbour who may have difficulty getting to a grocery store or calling and checking in on family, relatives and friends through online messages are exactly what people need to be doing to continue to feel connected.

"These are all parts of trying to keep connected through a really challenging time." 

However, she reminded Islanders they should not be delivering food or medicine if they are sick.

Morrison also reminded Islanders that those who have returned to the country recently need to remain at home and self-isolate. She said it's OK for people to go outside for fresh air but they need to return to their homes immediately.

I anticipate more cases in the days and weeks ahead ... but I think we're doing all these measures to try to reduce that number.— Dr. Heather Morrison

Tests being conducted are being sent directly to the Winnipeg National Microbiology Lab, which is inundated with testing requests, Morrison said.

The province plans to start its own testing here in a couple of weeks to get the results faster. 

"So that the negative results would be available much more quickly, and any positive tests would be called presumptive and then they would be confirmed with the National Microbiology Lab," Morrison said. 

"I anticipate more cases in the days and weeks ahead ... but I think we're doing all these measures to try to reduce that number." 

Islanders lined up to stock up on cannabis products on P.E.I., following Wednesday's announcement of the closure of non-essential businesses. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Test results coming in

The province is expecting results to come back Wednesday on additional tests. So far, Morrison said there have been 183 tests conducted on P.E.I. and there are 142 results pending. 

There are 648 cases of COVID-19 across the country, and nine deaths. 

On Tuesday, the P.E.I. government announced a financial relief package to help support the province's most vulnerable, who may not be drawing a paycheque during the pandemic.

Many businesses and workplaces have closed after P.E.I. declared a public health emergency on Monday. On Tuesday, Morrison also urged Islanders not to leave their homes unless it's essential. 

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.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

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

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.


Sam Juric


Sam Juric is a reporter with CBC Sudbury and can be reached at

With files from Sara Fraser


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