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UPDATED: P.E.I. withdrawing from Atlantic bubble as of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24

P.E.I.'s chief public health officer speaks during a news conference Nov. 23 announcing that the Island is withdrawing from the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks, until Dec. 7.
P.E.I.'s chief public health officer speaks during a news conference Nov. 23 announcing that the Island is withdrawing from the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks, until Dec. 7. - Facebook Screenshot

P.E.I. withdrew from the Atlantic bubble on Tuesday, putting a stop to all non-essential travel to and from the province for the next two weeks.

Premier Dennis King and Dr. Heather Morrison, the province’s chief public health officer, made the announcement at a media briefing on Monday morning.

Premier Dennis King announced Nov. 23 that Prince Edward Island is withdrawing from the Atlantic bubble and stopping all non-essential travel to and from the Island beginning at midnight until at least Dec. 7. - Screengrab
Premier Dennis King announced Nov. 23 that Prince Edward Island is withdrawing from the Atlantic bubble and stopping all non-essential travel to and from the Island beginning at midnight until at least Dec. 7. - Screengrab

The move comes in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with community spread being reported in Nova Scotia.

“We’ve seen rises in every single province in the country and the daily case load has hit an all-time high, it seems, every day,’’ King said. “On a couple of different occasions (on Sunday), I spoke to my fellow Atlantic premiers and we all agreed that it was important . . . we take all necessary precautions in our respective provinces to keep our residents safe.’’

Newfoundland and Labrador has also hit the pause button on its participation in the Atlantic bubble, implementing the same two-week break.

Morrison reported one additional COVID-19 case on P.E.I. as of Monday. It’s a woman in her 40s who travelled to P.E.I. from outside the bubble. She is self-isolating, and contract tracing is underway. 

There are currently two active COVID-19 cases in the province. Since the pandemic began, there have been 69 cases in P.E.I., all related to travel outside of the province.

“It is likely that P.E.I. will have cases related to exposure of outbreaks currently underway elsewhere in Canada,’’ Morrison said. “In other words, I am concerned that it may already be here. I’ve said before that COVID-19 is knocking at our door and, in recent days, that knocking has become louder and stronger.’’

Morrison said Islanders should leave P.E.I. only if “it is absolutely necessary’’ for things like work or medical appointments.

Anyone travelling to the province will be required to self-isolate or can apply to work-isolate for 14 days. Non-Island residents will be required to apply for pre-travel approval before arriving and must submit a 14-day self-isolation plan.

Essential workers coming to the Island will continue to be able to work-isolate.

Island students studying off P.E.I. will be required to self-isolate for 14 days when they return.

Morrison said people will still be able to travel to P.E.I. for compassionate purposes and for custody arrangements.

In terms of sporting events, Morrison said there will be no inter-provincial tournament play in P.E.I.

Truck drivers, like rotational workers, are required to register with the public health office, although there will be a grace period. They will not be required to follow the testing regimen until Nov. 30. That gives staff with the health department time to determine demand for additional testing. Morrison said if drivers or rotational workers experience any signs or symptoms they should arrange to be tested.

“I also urge all individuals who have travelled within Atlantic Canada over the last seven days to take additional precautions,’’ Morrison said Monday.

These precautions should continue for the next two weeks. Anyone who was in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia is being asked to wear a mask at all times when at work, in school or in a public place and should limit close contacts with anyone outside their household. Children who have travelled to either of those provinces shouldn’t attend hockey games, dancing events, ringette, birthday parties and playdates. 

As for seniors in long-term care and community care facilities, Morrison said partners in care who have returned to P.E.I. from any jurisdiction in the last seven days and going forward must be tested before visiting a loved one.

The chief public health officer added that her staff was meeting later in the day with officials in long-term care homes and community care facilities about rules around visitations. She said some homes have already made changes to visitation rules.

Morrison said a decision on what happens when the two-week pause ends on Dec. 7 will depend largely on the situation in neighbouring provinces.

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