Cottagers hoping they can come to P.E.I. in June

Dunstan and Joyce MacDonald had to rebook their flight to P.E.I. in May. They hope they won’t have to rebook again in June.

'We don't want to miss a whole season on the Island'

Dunstan and Joyce MacDonald are from the Souris area of P.E.I. and return every summer to their cottage in St. Margarets. (Submitted by Dunstan MacDonald)

Normally, Dunstan and Joyce MacDonald would be hopping on a plane about now to spend the summer at their cottage in eastern P.E.I.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, they had to rebook to June. They hope they won't have to rebook again.

"It's our go-to spot in the summertime," Dunstan MacDonald said.

The couple are from the Souris area but now live in Winnipeg. They have been coming home to their cottage in P.E.I. every summer for 20 years, and assumed this year would be no exception.

But with borders to P.E.I. closed to non-essential travel, they're unsure when that can happen. At least seven people have been turned away at the airport and sent back home since the restrictions came into place.

The MacDonalds don't consider themselves tourists, but rather seasonal residents. (Submitted by Dunstan MacDonald)

In a statement to CBC, the Chief Public Health Office said to avoid importation of COVID-19, "non-residents who wish to visit their summer homes in P.E.I. are asked to delay their vacations until at least June 1. This will be reevaluated at a later date."

MacDonald said he understands why some Island residents are wary about opening the borders. P.E.I. has had only 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19, none requiring hospitalization. 

The Island is an example of probably the safest place in Canada right now.— Dunstan MacDonald

"The Island is an example of probably the safest place in Canada right now," he said. "They have a very good track record of how they've treated this virus and I think they can hold themselves up as an example for others."

But the MacDonalds don't see themselves as tourists. They live on the Island for close to six months, pay taxes, and have a vehicle with P.E.I. plates.

"I guess you'd have to call us a seasonal resident for sure, but we're definitely in the resident category versus the occasional traveller or tourist category and it just seems that without some clarification everybody potentially is kind of put it in the same bucket."

They said they would abide by all public health orders.

'No issues with quarantine'

"We would like to be tested if that's necessary once we arrive on the Island. We certainly have no issues with that. We have no issues with quarantine or whatever is required."

For now, they will hang on to their plane tickets and see what happens in June.

"We want to go to the Island this year as we do every single year. If the policy says that we can't go till July then so be it. Then we'll do our best to change our arrangements and get there in July or if it's later than that we'll do that, as well," MacDonald said.

"We don't want to miss a whole season on the Island but it's not in our control."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Brian Higgins