P.E.I.’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the province is coming out of its first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We do need to be grateful and we need to be thankful,” Morrison said, her voice breaking as she became emotional.

She said as the province moves forward today with Phase 2 of easing back restrictions, public health officials will recommended that Islanders wear non-medical masks more often in certain situations.

“Non-medical masks are not to protect yourself but may protect others. They are to be used when physical distancing is not possible,” she said.

Morrison said the province has made a big difference in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“I am hopeful as we go forward we will be able to connect with loved ones in long-term care,” she said, adding she is hopes sports and church gatherings will be able to resume before long.

Long-term home visitation?

P.E.I.’s chief of nursing Marion Dowling said starting Monday more surgeries and procedures will be added to Health PEI services, and if treatment is being rebooked, patients will be called by Health PEI. 

Visitors are still not allowed in long-term care homes unless it is for compassionate reasons, she said.

We must have a realistic understanding of what lies ahead.— Premier Dennis King

“We do continue to assess those protocols for long-term care homes,” she said. “We do have an approach for Health PEI’s long term-care homes that will look to allow some limited designated visits in a controlled way.”

She said those protocols will be looked at and implemented in the next few weeks for those in the province and family wanting to visit on compassionate grounds.

Dowling reminded Islanders if they have symptoms of COVID-19 to call 811 to arrange to be tested at a cough and fever clinic.

‘I am hopeful as we go forward we will be able to connect with loved ones in long-term care,’ says P.E.I.’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison. (Ken Linton/CBC)

Before Morrison and Dowling spoke, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said easing back restrictions was “never a process to go back to normal,” because he said he doesn’t know what the new normal will be.

“In this province by following a careful, health-based plan we have done very, very well,” King said.

Public health leadership and strong compliance from Islanders has helped P.E.I. largely avoid the impact of COVID-19, he said, adding in the months and years ahead Islanders will see how these changes affected them.

King said he knows some people are afraid to reopen the province.

I’m not upset to be criticized or scrutinized. That’s my job. I am the premier.— Premier Dennis King

“We cannot and must not be paralyzed by these fears,” King said. “We must have a realistic understanding of what lies ahead.

“While we are opening things up slowly we are continually watching the realities. At any time we can and will, if we have to, pull back and reinstate the restrictions in the interest of public health.”

King said the province is working toward being ready for a second wave of COVID-19, which could hit the province in the fall.

King acknowledged he has received criticism for the government’s plan to open up P.E.I. to seasonal residents.

“Nothing that we will do will ever be more important than the health and safety of Islanders. I’m not upset to be criticized or scrutinized. That’s my job. I am the premier,” he said. “When I get upset is when they target individuals, high-calibre, like Dr. Morrison.”

King said he thinks Islanders can and should do better and he stands by the decision to allow season residents into the province.

Recent stories

Phase 2 of the easing of pandemic restrictions started today.

People line up for a hair cut on Kent Street in Charlottetown. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

The P.E.I. Legislature will hold its first sitting Tuesday since the start of the pandemic, and there have been some changes made.

Some provincial government services reopened to the public today as part of Phase 2.

A release from the province said government offices that are reopening to the public have put protocols in place to ensure public health measures, such as maintaining physical distancing, are followed. That may mean longer wait times for some services.

Access PEI locations in Souris, Summerside, Charlottetown and O’Leary will now be open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the release said.

Access PEI will also be adapting to better support seniors. Tuesday mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. will be for those over the age of 60 until further notice.

The provincial government also has a list of what is reopening and when on its website.

King also defended a decision to allow seasonal residents to begin the pre-approval process to enter the province on June 1 during a Facebook Live Q&A with Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison hosted by CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.

New forecasting from the province projects a scenario that could see as many as 27 of P.E.I.’s critical care beds filled with COVID-19 patients.

The powers the government is looking for in an amended Emergency Measures Act do not exist anywhere else, says Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

P.E.I.’s Green Party is calling proposed amendments to the Emergency Measures Act an “astonishing power grab.”

A case before the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is questioning whether provinces have a constitutional right to deny entry to Canadian citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sport leaders on P.E.I. held a virtual conference this week with the chief public health office to discuss resume activities.

P.E.I. has had 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19. All have recovered. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said Wednesday another 580 tests results had come back negative since the start of the weekend.

Also in the news Further resources COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly. Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

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