P.E.I. lays out 5-stage plan for reopening, starting June 6
Vaccinated travellers will have an easier time coming to P.E.I. than those without shots
P.E.I. is hoping to see its borders opened to the other Atlantic provinces on June 27, the second step in a five-stage plan for reopening the province presented at the weekly COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.
Visitors from Atlantic Canada will be able to come to the Island by providing a self-declaration form, which will include their vaccination status. The announcement was part of a reopening plan unveiled by Premier Dennis King and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison.
"This will be too slow for some and too fast for others, as we have heard throughout the pandemic," Morrison said as she announced the timeline.
"We are hopeful that as more people are immunized, we will be able to ease out of this pandemic safely."
King said he was on a conference call with the other three Atlantic premiers Wednesday night, and the way the bubble will open this year will be different.
Last year, all four provinces opened up on July 3. This year, King said, each province will set its own opening date, but they expected to all be aligned by the end of June.
The plan for a return to a more normal life comes as hope grows that higher vaccination rates in Canada will beat back the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the province is relatively open compared to the rest of Canada, P.E.I.'s residents are still living under strong public health restrictions.
Non-residents of P.E.I. require special permission to visit. Anyone arriving on the Island has to quarantine themselves for two weeks to ensure that if they caught the virus while travelling it does not spread.
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The plan for reopening Prince Edward Island, called Moving Forward, outlined five steps.
- Step 1, June 6: Initial easing of P.E.I. public health measures.
- Step 2, June 27: Travel permitted from Atlantic Canada with no self-isolation for travellers with at least one dose of vaccine and shortened self-isolation for unvaccinated travellers.
- Step 3, July 18: Further easing of P.E.I. public health measures, allowing for larger gatherings, and some non-medical mask wearing requirements lifted.
- Step 4, Aug. 8: Travel permitted from outside Atlantic Canada with no self-isolation for fully vaccinated travellers and shortened self-isolation for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers (with pre-travel approval under existing travel streams for non-P.E.I. residents).
- Step 5, Sept. 12: Limited P.E.I. public health measures including no personal or organized gathering limits. No pre-travel approval for domestic travellers. Some isolation and testing measures for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers.
The plan says the dates for these changes are estimates. Morrison said the dates could move in either direction, depending on whether conditions are better or worse than expected, and the success of the province's vaccination rollout.
The public health measure changes planned for June 6 include:
- Personal gathering limits raised to 20 people.
- Easing of restrictions on organized gatherings including weddings and funerals.
- Increase in the number of people allowed at restaurant tables.
Islanders will have an easier time travelling around Canada starting in Step 4, Aug. 8.
If fully vaccinated, Islanders will be able to travel within Canada and not self-isolate when they return, but will be subject to testing.
Fully-vaccinated people arriving on P.E.I. under existing travel streams — such as family connections and seasonal residents — will not have to self-isolate on arrival either, but again will be subject to testing.
The plan also shows an updated timeline for immunization on P.E.I.
The target for giving 80 per cent of eligible Islanders their first dose of vaccine remains about the same, June 27. The date for those people getting their second dose moves up a little, to Sept. 12.
The plan says that with 80 per cent of Islanders fully vaccinated, the province will be considered to have achieved herd immunity against COVID-19.
For Step 5 on Sept. 12, given the assumption of herd immunity, the province expects a significant easing of all public health restrictions.
- Further easing of non-medical mask requirements.
- No limits on personal or organized gatherings.
- No restrictions on sporting events.
- No restrictions on restaurants and bars.
- Unrestricted visiting at long-term care facilities.
- No pre-travel approval needed for visitors from within Canada.
Case numbers are still high across Canada, but they have been falling recently. Currently, just over half of Canadians have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
P.E.I. is one of several provinces releasing reopening plans this week.
Since the pandemic was declared in March of 2020, the Island has confirmed 200 cases of COVID-19, two hospitalizations and no deaths.
More from CBC P.E.I.
- Due to an error in the province's Moving Forward document, this story originally reported some easing of non-medical mask wearing requirements on June 6. In fact, that change will come July 18.May 28, 2021 10:19 AM AT