Think P.E.I., Morrison advises Islanders hoping for March break travel

P.E.I.’s chief public health officer does not anticipate any easing of travel restrictions before the end of March, she said Tuesday as she confirmed one more case of COVID-19.

‘Now is not the time to be travelling off Island’

Island families should be making P.E.I. plans for March break, says Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison. (Government of P.E.I.)

P.E.I.'s chief public health officer does not anticipate any easing of travel restrictions before the end of March — and she is acting to tighten the rules around self-isolation in light of new COVID-19 variants that can be passed on more easily. 

Dr. Heather Morrison made the comments during her regular briefing on the pandemic Tuesday.

"If we aren't careful, a variant could take over as a dominant strain in the country," she warned.

Morrison began by addressing reading week for post-secondary students, which is next week at UPEI and the following week at Holland College. She advised students to make plans to spend their time on the Island rather than off.

She also asked P.E.I. students studying off-Island not to come home during their breaks, to reduce the chance of more travel-related COVID-19 cases .

Looking further ahead, Morrison said it was unlikely public health restrictions regarding travel would be eased before March break, and families looking ahead should be considering how they will spend the break on P.E.I.

"Now is not the time to be travelling off Island for non-essential purposes," said Morrison.

She went on to say that government officials would have to negotiate any resumption of the Atlantic bubble, which would let residents travel among the four provinces without having to isolate, and she couldn't see that happening before the first of April. 

Quarantine tightened

Morrison also said the province is tightening restrictions regarding self-isolation, with particular concern about the spread of more communicable COVID-19 variants in Canada.

Ideally, she said, people self-isolating should do so in a separate residence. If that is not possible, households could consider self-isolating together, with nobody involved leaving the property.

If that is not possible, the person self-isolating should not be in the same room as anyone else in the household, even with physical distancing or the wearing of masks, and may not share a kitchen with anyone. Ideally they should have their own bathroom, but if that is not possible, enhanced cleaning is required.

Waiting for a negative result greatly reduces the risk of spread.- Dr. Heather Morrison

On another topic, she urged rotational workers and truck drivers to wait for a negative COVID-19 test result before rejoining their families, where at all possible, saying: "Waiting for a negative result greatly reduces the risk of spread."

International travellers heading for P.E.I. after non-essential travel were given more clarity as well. After they go through federal requirements that include three days of isolation near the airport where they land, if they test negative and get the green light to travel on to their final destination, they must isolate another 14 days when they get to P.E.I.

Morrison also announced one more case of COVID-19, a man in his 30s. She said he was diagnosed while out of the province, and will remain off-Island while recovering. P.E.I. now has four active cases, she added.

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