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P.E.I. government announces phased plan to ease public health restrictions

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island reported its first new case of COVID-19 in almost two weeks on Tuesday, while announcing the first phase of a plan to ease public health restrictions.

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island reported its first new case of COVID-19 in almost two weeks on Tuesday, while announcing the first phase of a plan to ease public health restrictions.

A man in his 50s who returned from international travel became the 27th case on the Island. Twenty-four of those cases are considered recovered and there have been no deaths from COVID-19 on P.E.I.

Meanwhile, the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Heather Morrison, announced the first phase of the government's "Renew P.E.I. Together" plan.

Priority non-urgent health care services will begin on Friday, May 1 — including certain elective surgeries and select health service providers including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors.

Also beginning May 1, outdoor gatherings and non-contact outdoor recreational activities of no more than five individuals from different households will be permitted, as long as participants maintain physical distancing. That includes recreational fishing and golf.

However, screening will continue at points of entry to the province for the foreseeable future, and all persons entering P.E.I. will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Premier Dennis King said despite the move to ease some restrictions, Islanders should not take anything for granted.

"It would be irresponsible and wrong for anyone to suggest that we are done. We are a long, long way from being done," King said Tuesday.

He said a lot of difficult lessons have been learned since the pandemic began and it would be foolish to have to learn them again.

"As a wise man once told me, there is absolutely no education to be gained from the second kick of a mule," King said.

The second phase of the plan could begin May 22 and would include outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

"It would also include having friends over to watch movies, with the physical distancing, as long as there are no more than five people in the house," Morrison said during a late afternoon news conference. 

The third phase could potentially begin June 12 and would include allowing barbers and hair salons to open.

"At this point we would permit gatherings of no more than 15 people at that time and 20 outdoors, and it would include religious gatherings," Morrison said.

Organized recreational activities and recreational facilities and services and public spaces would reopen. This would include things such as yoga studios, pools and organized tennis.

King said no date has been set on lifting all restrictions or on opening border points with other provinces.

He and Morrison stressed that each phase will have to be done carefully and deliberately to avoid allowing new cases to emerge.

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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