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P.E.I implements mandatory mask policy as COVID-19 cases surge in Canada

Dr. Heather Morrison, Prince Edward Island's chief medical officer of health, announces the province's first confirmed case of coronavirus on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Government of Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island reported no new cases on Tuesday leaving Canada’s smallest province with three active cases and an overall total of 68 cases since the onset of the pandemic.

However, the province announced that effective Friday it would make the wearing of masks mandatory for all enclosed public spaces including retail businesses, restaurants except when eating or drinking, government buildings, places of worship and taxis.

READ MORE: Concerns raised over N.S. COVID-19 alert protocols following school exposures

Premier Dennis King said although Islanders had complied with public health measures, stronger protocols are now needed because of the surge of COVID-19 cases elsewhere in the country.

“Things outside our province’s borders and outside our Atlantic bubble are hitting a critical point,” King said. “This isn’t about the cases here; this is about the turbulence we are seeing across the country.”

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Coronavirus outbreak: PEI’s chief public health officer asks all non-essential services to close – Mar 18, 2020

Chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, equated the current situation with advanced preparation for a hurricane, where the track of the storm and its potential impacts are known.

“When we know there is a hurricane heading towards P.E.I., we do everything possible to prepare ourselves . . . for any potential devastation,” Morrison said.

She noted that all of the province’s cases to date have been travel related, with about one third being people who either travel for work or come to the Island for work.

She announced new requirements for out-of-province rotational workers, who now won’t be allowed to enter public places until their 14-day self isolation period is completed. They also won’t be allowed to host anyone or visit outside their household until the quarantine period ends.

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Morrison said workers would continue to be tested three times during their isolation.

As well, Islanders who travel outside of the Atlantic region for Christmas must apply to the province for re-entry approval by Dec. 1, and self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2020.

– With files from Danielle Edwards

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