PEI

P.E.I. wants to be welcoming, but tourism season uncertain, says premier

With some form of provincial border controls likely to remain in place for some time on P.E.I. to control COVID-19 outbreaks, this year’s tourism season will be a challenge, says Premier Dennis King.

‘We really want to be welcoming people with open arms’

'We really don't want to give up the incredible gains and efforts that we have made,' says Premier Dennis King. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

With some form of provincial border controls likely to remain in place for some time on P.E.I. to control COVID-19 outbreaks, this year's tourism season will be a challenge, says Premier Dennis King.

"I think we can get some people here, through certainly the latter part of the summer," King told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier Friday.

"Do I foresee with some hopefulness that we can have some connectivity with a province like New Brunswick, who's in a similar situation that we are, toward the end of June and into the summer? Yes, but that also comes with a lot of caveats and uncertainty."

Earlier this week King talked about beginning to lift some of the restrictions put in place during the pandemic. Those restrictions include closing the Island's to most people apart from permanent residents and essential workers.

"This isn't really who we are as Islanders," said King.

"We really want to be welcoming people with open arms and this is real difficult for us from an emotional standpoint and … from an economic standpoint."

King said expanded testing will be key to what he is calling ease back.

The province will soon have the capability to do 2,000 tests a week, and that will allow for testing of people who work with vulnerable populations, as well as truckers who are travelling in and out of the province.

P.E.I. has had just 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and King said his first priority remains keeping the disease under control in the province.

"We realize that Islanders are eager to get moving around and to begin that process to get back to normal or whatever the new normal could be," he said.

"We want to do this, but we really don't want to give up the incredible gains and efforts that we have made to date."

Even if restrictions are relaxed, there is the possibility they could be imposed again if testing shows the disease is emerging on the Island.

More from CBC P.E.I.

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