Lieutenant-governor won't be hosting open houses, levee this year

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COVID-19 will cost Islanders their annual dose of Government House punch and fruitcake this year.

The traditional Christmas open houses and New Year's Day levee will not be happening at the lieutenant-governor's residence in Charlottetown due to the impossibility of maintaining public health protocols for the large crowds they normally attract.

"I'm certainly saddened by it, but the priority is to keep safe and we're really just trying to follow the guidelines that are set out for us," Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry told CBC on Thursday.

"But at the same time, I'm extremely grateful for where I'm living and for the diligence of government, the public health [officials], you know, to keep Islanders safe."

The events usually draw hundreds from across P.E.I., with the Christmas open houses occurring in three sessions of an hour and a half each.

Perry said that staff have told her the New Year's Day levee has been cancelled only once since 1999, due to a severe storm.

Government House usually hosts hundreds of events each year, Perry noted, and the COVID-19 pandemic has severely restricted such activities.

As well as being an official government venue, the stately building known as Fanningbank is also considered a private residence since Perry lives there. The public health impacts of that status also must be taken into account when any events are planned.

Perry notes that Government House will have some additional outside decorations this year, and people will be able to enjoy the view from the Victoria Park boardwalk.

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