CHARLOTTETOWN — The premier of Prince Edward Island says while no date has been set to reopen the Atlantic travel bubble, his province is ready to start welcoming some visitors again starting June 8.
"Building on what we have learned from last year, we feel comfortable from a health perspective to begin processing family connections and reunifications as well as Canadian seasonal residents of P.E.I. for entry to the province beginning on June 8," Dennis King said Tuesday.
The premier said anyone wishing to travel to the province will require preapproval and a plan to isolate for 14 days upon arrival. The Island is currently closed to non-essential travel.
"New this year, there will be added health and safety precautions," he said. "Individuals will need proof of a negative test within 72 hours before entering the province and they will be tested upon arrival at all points of entry for a COVID-19 test," he said.
King said the same rules will apply regardless of whether a visitor has had one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
"By the week of June 8, 90,000 Islanders will have received at least one dose of vaccine," he said. "These are careful steps forward, but they are forward steps."
It's still unclear when the Atlantic travel bubble will reopen, inside which residents of the region can cross provincial boundaries without having to isolate.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison said she expects some national direction soon on what vaccine is recommended for people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose.
That vaccine has been linked to a rare blood-clotting event, although there have been no such cases reported in P.E.I.
"We are following the results of clinical trials regarding the interchangeability of vaccines," Morrison said Tuesday. "The results of this research will provide evidence regarding the best options for second doses.
"We do have AstraZeneca in the provincial pharmacy. I've asked … for some direction in case that AstraZeneca can be used elsewhere," she said about sending the shots to other parts of the country.
"If there is an mRNA vaccine that's recommended for the second dose, we'll have that available. If AstraZeneca is recommended as the second dose, we'll have that available," Morrison said.
Health officials on the Island reported two new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. The travel-related cases involve a person in their 20s and someone in their 40s. Prince Edward Island has 10 active reported cases of COVID-19 and has reported a total of 194 infections and no deaths linked to the virus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021.
— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
The Canadian Press