A visit to a restaurant or pub will permitted as of Monday, June 1, as will rejoining a soccer team or visiting a bowling alley.
On Friday, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced that, barring any outbreak of COVID-19 cases, the province is planning to move ahead the start date of the third phase of the province’s plan to ease COVID-19 related restrictions from June 12 to June 1.
The second phase of the re-opening plan will still begin May 22.
No new cases of COVID-19 were reported on P.E.I. on Friday. It has been 17 days since the last positive case of COVID-19, and there have been no detected cases involving community transmission. P.E.I. is the only province in which there have been no deaths, no hospitalizations and in which there are no active cases of the virus.
"We're monitoring for capacity in P.E.I. for contact tracing, our capacity in the health system, what the situation is in other provinces. And because of the position we're in, we're able to move ahead with the relaxation of restrictions carefully," Morrison said during a media briefing on Friday.
In the third phase of the re-opening plan, gatherings of up to 15 will be permitted indoors while gatherings of up to 20 will be permitted outdoors, provided physical distancing is maintained. Recreational facilities like gyms and yoga studio will be able to re-open, while team sports like soccer or baseball leagues can resume.
Restaurants will be permitted to re-open as well for both indoor and patio dining, with reduced capacity. Tables will need to be spaced at least 6 feet apart and there will be limits of the number of people per table. Restaurants will be logging the name and contact number of individuals as well.
“If there is a COVID-positive situation and we need to do contact tracing, the restaurant would be able to help us,” Morrison said.
Libraries, art galleries and community centres will also be re-opening June 1st, as will campgrounds and hotels. Physical distancing, handwashing guidelines and travel restrictions will remain in place.
In response to a media question in French, Morrison also provided a tentative date for the fourth phase of the province’s re-opening plan.
"It will be around the first of July. But it may change, it [often] changes each week, each day," Morrison said in French.
Few details have been released about what will be permitted in this phase, but the province’s website indicates travel restrictions to other provinces or countries would begin to be lifted, as would restrictions on large gatherings.
Morrison said the province is examining ways in which long-term seasonal visitors could be allowed into the province. A letter from tourism operators last week to the province pressed for protocols for allowing a two-week quarantine for these long-term visitors in order to assist the province’s beleaguered tourism industry.
Morrison did not rule out that these measures could include individuals coming from Ontario, Quebec or even outside of Canada.
"If they were seasonal residents and were planning to be here for an extended period of time and had a good self-isolation plan in place, certainly that's one of the things that we're looking at," Morrison said.
Health P.E.I. chief of nursing Marion Dowling said health authorities have been balancing reintroducing health services while maintaining capacity to deal with a possible outbreak of coronavirus cases. As of Saturday, more visitors will be allowed for some patients.
"Starting tomorrow, up to two designated visitors will be allowed for patients in palliative care, intensive care, neonatal intensive care, obstetrics and pediatric care," Dowling said.
The number of visitors has also been increased for individuals at the end of their life.