Prince Edward Island says it is shutting its borders down to non-resident travellers from outside of Atlantic Canada.
In a COVID-19 briefing, chief health officer Dr. Heather Morrison said that at least four of the most recent travel-related positive COVID-19 samples were confirmed to be the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K.
“We know the variants are more transmissible,” said Morrison, adding it is now clear that additional measures are needed to reduce the importation of the virus.
“It is my recommendation that Islanders limit interprovincial travel unless it is for essential purposes.”
Effective immediately and at least until May 17, P.E.I. is pausing non-resident travel to the province from outside of Atlantic Canada.
Measures include seasonal residents planning to come to P.E.I. in the next four weeks, who will be advised to defer their travel until at least May 17.
“The family connections stream for seasonal residents is also paused,” said Morrison.
Those planning permanent relocation to the Island in the next four weeks for school or work purposes will need proof of a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving in P.E.I.
“After arriving in our province these individuals will be required to isolate for 14 days,” she said, adding they will be tested again three times during quarantine.
Pre-departure negative tests will also be required for workers coming into P.E.I. from outside of Atlantic Canada. They will also have to agree to be tested before entering their workplace and be re-tested every two days during their stay in the province for the first 14 days.
Travel for compassionate reasons will be approved on a case-by-case basis.
“There are no changes in the requirements for residents of Atlantic Canada to travel to P.E.I. for work or school,” said Morrison.
“Travel to and from P.E.I for non-essential purposes is not recommended.”
Premier Dennis King said in the briefing that after the difficult news over the weekend, of P.E.I.’s second hospitalization from COVID-19, the safety of residents is the top priority.
“Though we are doing very very well in this province, we are not totally insulated from the COVID-19 virus or its variants,” said King.
He said that while the province already has some of the strictest border measures in the country, it is necessary to tighten them up a bit more.
“By doing so it is our hope to limit the importation of the virus in our province.”
He said P.E.I. has to quickly undertake the “worrisome trend” seen across Canada.