Premier scolds Islanders for ignoring chief public health officer's advice
'You would have to be living under a rock to not understand how severe this is'
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King made his first in-person appearance at a briefing on Monday following a period of self-isolation.
King began the briefing by expressing his disappointment in Islanders.
"The time for education is over. The time for enforcement is now," he said.
"You would have to be living under a rock to not understand how severe this is. Our entire lives have been turned upside down in the span of two weeks," he said.
He said Islanders can expect fines to be utilized in the days ahead as enforcement ramps up.
King said while the province does not want to put Islanders in jail, should people continue to ignore the directives it will be considered.
He announced that the recently formed Premier's Economic Recovery Council held its first virtual meeting over the weekend. The council was established to develop ways to minimize impacts on the Island's businesses. He said the group, made up of people from various Island industries and will meet weekly.
King also announced the P.E.I. Sourced Solutions program, an online portal designed to help Islanders and businesses connect and share ideas on how to obtain goods and services, as well as share creative solutions on how to direct resources amid COVID-19.
The online portal will be available beginning March 31 at 8 a.m.
He also said the province continues to look for creative ways for employers to keep employees on payroll.
Minister of Economic Growth Matthew MacKay announced a new Commercial Lease Rent Deferral program, to encourage Islanders to defer rent payments from commercial tenants for 3 months.
This would spread the deferred rent over the rest of the lease term.
MacKay said landlords deferring a tenant's rent could be eligible for up to $15,000 per tenant, and a maximum of $50,000 per landlord.
To be eligible for the program, Island landlords must apply to Finance PEI by April 15.
Minister of Social Development and Housing Ernie Hudson said a moratorium on evictions previously announced by PEI Housing Corporation will now be extended to the end of June.
He also announced a $1 million temporary rental-assistance benefit program, modelled after the province's rent supplement program, with the aim of helping Island households currently renting who have seen a loss of income because of the pandemic.
Island renters experiencing a loss of income are encouraged to call 1-877-368-5770 for more information.
"At such a stressful time this is one thing we can do to help Islanders," Hudson said.
Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Steven Myers said two liquor stores were reopened over the weekend in Summerside and Montague.
He added that a couple more will be reopened later in the week in O'Leary and Souris.
Myers said before reopening the locations, the province is looking to train staff for best practices.
"We're making sure we have the proper security, we're making sure we have the proper sanitization equipment at the entryways so that everybody is safe."
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.
With files from Malcolm Campbell and Shane Ross