PEI

P.E.I. keeping mask mandates, but some pandemic restrictions ending

Prince Edward Island is not ready to drop mask mandates as a way of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

1 new death reported; 14 in hospital for COVID, including 3 in ICU

COVID-19 case numbers are climbing, says P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison. (CBC)

Prince Edward Island is not ready to drop mask mandates as a way of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The mandates were set to drop on Thursday as part of Step 3 in the province's Moving On plan. In a briefing Tuesday morning, Premier Dennis King said they would stay in place until at least April 28.

Even after that date, they will likely still be required in high-risk settings such as health-care facilities and on public transit.

"We have tried, and I think have succeeded, with a slow and methodical walk through this pandemic in a responsible way — in particular, as we make our way through the last components of it," said King.

Some restrictions ending

The province's state of emergency is due to expire at midnight Wednesday, and King said that for the first time since March 2020 it would not be renewed.

The province still has legal instruments to retain the mask mandate and to keep rules regarding self-isolation for people with COVID-19, he said.

Some restrictions will end with the state of emergency at midnight:

  • No limits on personal gatherings or on sports and recreational activities.
  • Businesses (retailers, gyms, museums, libraries) will be able to operate at full capacity.
  • Food premises and licensed establishments will operate at full capacity.

The province is also changing isolation requirements for close household contacts. Parents of children with COVID will still need to self-isolate, but others will not if there is a plan for keeping the person with COVID separated.

Testing ends today at Charlottetown Airport. It will be voluntary at Confederation Bridge until April 28, but the plan is to end testing after that date.

Number of cases growing

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said one Islander has died of COVID-19 in the last week, a person over the age of 80.

In the last week the province has identified an average of 367 cases per day. There are currently 14 people who have been hospitalized for COVID, including three in intensive care. The numbers in hospital for COVID are up from eight on March 17 and 13 last Tuesday.

P.E.I. will continue to be careful about lifting restrictions, says Premier Dennis King. (CBC)

"We are seeing a gradual increase in cases on P.E.I.," said Morrison.

In the week ending March 29 the province counted 350 cases a day. Morrison said case numbers are going down for people under the age of 19, but increasing for those 20 and older.

Case numbers are growing faster in other jurisdictions, and that may be because they have dropped restrictions more quickly than P.E.I., Morrison said.

Morrison said she expected future impacts on the health-care sector from the pandemic will be manageable.

This is the first briefing from the province in almost a month.

At the last briefing, on March 8, the province adjusted the rules for who should go to a testing clinic, with Islanders told under certain circumstances they should just assume they have COVID. The change was made to relieve strain on testing capacity.

As the province implemented Step 2 of the Moving On plan on March 17, Morrison said the province would be keeping a close eye on impact on the health-care system, including hospitalizations, when considering any adjustments to Step 3.

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