P.E.I. rolls out 'circuit-breaker measures' to curb new COVID-19 outbreak

·2 min read

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island is introducing what it describes as new "circuit-breaker measures" to try to curb a recent spike in COVID-19 diagnoses that cannot be linked to travel outside the province.

"We need to wrap our arms around this virus and prevent it from spreading to the full extent that we can," Premier Dennis King said at an unscheduled briefing late Saturday.

"We will continue to ask people to stay apart as much as possible while at the same time being as active socially and physically as possible because we have learned over time how important both those aspects are to our overall well-being."

The new restrictions, which take effect on Sunday, will limit gatherings to an immediate household, plus a consistent circle of 10 contacts.

Sporting events, tournaments and competitions will be banned but team practices can continue.

Organized gatherings for concerts, worship services and movies will be limited to 50 people while gyms, museums, retail stores and libraries can operate at 50 per cent capacity with additional cleaning.

Restaurants can remain open for takeout and delivery only, while personal services may operate on an appointment basis provided masks are worn.

The tighter restrictions are needed to "interrupt the chain of transmission," said Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief medical officer of health.

"As this outbreak continues to evolve in the coming days, we are expecting to receive more positive cases," she said. "This outbreak is likely going to get worse before it begins to get better."

Her comments came as the province reported six new COVID-19 infections, all among patients in their 20s.

The province has recorded 14 new cases in four days – 12 of which have no connection to travel outside the province.

Prince Edward Island has remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic, going long stretches without new infections.

King said the current outbreak is not only disappointing but also worrisome, as the province is operating under the assumption that the new cases are a more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus.

"It's discouraging from the perspective of all Islanders simply because we've done very, very well to date and we can see the finish line but we do seem to be stuck in this tangled spider's web of COVID and it won't really let us out of its grip."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021.

The Canadian Press