P.E.I. event organizers optimistic as gathering limits remain

·3 min read
Liam Dolan says the plan for the Shellfish Festival is to stay safe and set some trends for future events.  (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Liam Dolan says the plan for the Shellfish Festival is to stay safe and set some trends for future events. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Organizers of festivals and events are adapting to news that the province will not be entering the fifth and final phase of P.E.I.'s Moving Forward plan, as was scheduled for Sept 12.

The final phase would've seen many restrictions lifted, like gathering limits.

In a public health briefing Tuesday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced gathering limits will continue to be limited to 100 indoors and 200 outdoors.

Weddings and funerals can have a maximum of 200 people.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

This has event organizers like Liam Dolan, the president of P.E.I. Shellfish Festival, rethinking how their events will take place.

"We will have cohorts, people will be double vaccinated, and people will be strongly recommended to wear masks, and I think we're going to be quite good," Dolan said.

In past years, as many as 3,000 people have filled one tent. Today, they're still waiting to hear how many people are allowed.

Setting the trend

They say the plan is to stay safe, and set some trends for future events.

"I guess we're a pioneer of how we're going to get back to normal on Prince Edward Island, and I think we're very resilient, the organization that we have here."

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

People who bring conventions to the Island, like Meetings and Conventions P.E.I. executive director Susan Freeman, say P.E.I. has an advantage: people feel safe here.

"What we're hearing from other meeting planners that we're talking to is they want to bring their groups to P.E.I. because they know that we're safe, and they know we've done very well, and they get that feeling as soon as they come here," Freeman said.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

When it comes to the entertainment business, the Confederation Centre of the Arts is trying to plan for future shows and audience sizes. Right now, they're limited to 300 people, but they hope that will change.

"We remain optimistic and hopeful that there will be some change for the better for gathering limits in the near future," the centre's Andrew Sprague said.

"We can't sit and wait for gathering limits to change before we start programming. We have to plan ahead. We have to book our artists, and we have to audition talent for next year's festival."

The centre is getting ready to announce some shows in the coming months. Some of these shows will depend on bigger crowds being allowed, but the centre and others say they're used to pandemic life and how that can affect plans.

Rescheduled weddings

Bride-to-be Kassidy Kerr said she knows the rules are in place to keep people safe, but it's stressful to make the call of who can and can't go to her wedding.

Submitted by Kassidy Kerr
Submitted by Kassidy Kerr

"We wanted to have over 200, but now we've cut it down significantly, which leaves out important people which is hard on us," said Kerr.

It's not the first time her wedding plans have changed because of COVID-19.

"We actually planned for last year because we wanted to include everybody and figured if we postponed it would be maybe a greater chance … but it doesn't look that way."

For now, her wedding is rescheduled for 2022.

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