The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce is calling for a clear plan as to how and when P.E.I.’s borders will reopen during the province’s recovery from COVID-19.
In a media statement, chamber interim CEO Gerard Adams said businesses need a basic timeline to help them plan for reopening.
“What worked with the Renew PEI, Together plan was that it laid out when and how we would ease restrictions within the province. Business owners could then look at what was in it and work with public health officials to adjust,” Adams said in the statement.
“We see a plan for the easing of restrictions at our provincial borders as equally beneficial for our local business community and Islanders as a whole.”
In an interview, Adams said businesses need this plan to guide their actions in the coming months.
"Businesses have to make decisions to invest in what this summer is going to look like, and that could involve hiring people, decisions whether to open or not, how many people to hire,” Adams said.
"We're not advocating for any particular detail in the plan. We're just advocating for the existence of a point of entry plan."
The media statement indicated such a plan could include the phases in which seasonal residents, inter-provincial visitors and international visitors could travel to P.E.I., as well as unique groups such as the Canadian Premier Soccer League. The statement also suggested the province outline scenarios in which the Chief Public Health Office would reverse plans to open the border.
Adams’ comments come amid differing messages between the Atlantic Canadian premiers about plans to ease travel restrictions.
Although the premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. have all expressed a willingness to establish a bubble within Atlantic Canada by early July, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia may also open up to travel from across Canada in mid- to late-July. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball has not yet committed to a date for allowing any inter-provincial travel without two-week quarantines.
Speaking to media outside of the Coles Building on Friday, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said inter-provincial travel was discussed in a call Thursday evening with the Atlantic premiers.
"The conversation that we had last night was primarily around working toward what an Atlantic bubble could look like in early July which, as I've been saying for five to six weeks now, is just a continuation of the conversation we've been having," King said.
But King acknowledged talk of open travel with the rest of Canada to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia presented complications.
"Quite honestly, if our two sister provinces were to open for the rest of the country, it would make it difficult for us at the borders,” King said.
“We would have to either strengthen our borders to ... tell those people coming from other parts of the country they would need to isolate here."
King acknowledged there are frustrations from the business community, particularly those that rely on the increasingly meagre tourism season.
"As frustrating as it might be for the business community, it would be unfair for me to suggest a date that I wouldn't be able to do just yet," King said.