PEI

Northumberland Ferries delays P.E.I.-N.S. service until at least June 1

Northumberland Ferries says it's delaying the Wood Islands, P.E.I., to Caribou, N.S., ferry service until at least June 1.

Decision comes following a consultation with both the P.E.I. and N.S. chief public health officers

Ferry service between Nova Scotia and P.E.I. will be delayed until at least June 1, says Northumberland Ferries Limited. (Shane Ross/CBC)

Northumberland Ferries says it's delaying the Wood Islands, P.E.I., to Caribou, N.S., ferry service until at least June 1.

The season was originally scheduled to begin May 1 with new measures, including pre-screening passengers for symptoms of COVID-19 and reducing the number of vehicles allowed on each ferry crossing to allow for physical distancing.

Officials with the ferry said the decision came after a consultation with both P.E.I. and Nova Scotia's chief public health officers.

"We understand that the fight to control the COVID-19 virus is at a very important stage," said a release sent Friday afternoon. "The health of the public, our employees, and our customers is the priority. We look forward to commencing service as soon as advisable from a public health standpoint."

The release said the ferry's start date is under ongoing review but is delayed until at least June 1.

In her news briefing on Friday, P.E.I. chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison said she had been in discussions with Northumberland Ferries and her Nova Scotia counterpart Dr. Strang regarding the restrictions that would be in force when the ferry service started its season.

State of emergency

P.E.I. declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 on Thursday, which came into effect Friday at 8 a.m. The state of emergency allows for enhanced controls and screening at points of entry to the province, including the ferry terminal at Wood Islands.

In her news briefing Thursday, Morrison said the state of emergency allowed the province to allocate more resources toward screening at the points of entry, and knowing Northumberland Ferries would soon commence its season meant they had to increase capacity.

"Our highway safety and our public health officials who have been at the bridge have been doing a really incredible job, they do shifts day and night," she said.

"There's only so many of them, and I think we needed some assistance, particularly in our numbers of people who are able to do that."

As of 7 p.m. Friday, Nova Scotia has had 606 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths, while P.E.I. has had 26 cases.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Sally Pitt

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