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Additional public health measures to limit the number of contacts; 31 new cases of COVID-19; second case of Omicron confirmed

CANADA, December 17 - Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, has announced additional public health measures as Prince Edward Island reaches a record number of daily COVID-19 cases.  

“It is disheartening and disappointing that we have to put additional measures in place to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. The speed at which this variant is spreading is unparalleled and unprecedented in this pandemic. The majority of our recent cases are linked to travel, some are close contacts of previous cases and for others there is no link, meaning there is community spread. We need to take quick and decisive action now to allow us time to learn more about the Omicron variant over the next few weeks.” 

- Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison

The following measures come into effect Saturday, December 18, at 8:00 am until January 8, 2022: 

  • Personal gatherings are limited to 10 people plus household members; this is a ‘steady’ 10 people and should not be 10 different people each day.
  • Long-term care and community care visitors will be limited to three partners in care plus three designated visitors, with physical distancing. Facility operators will be asked to continue to screen visitors and ensure access to hand sanitization supplies and masks.
  • Strict physical distancing between people from different households is required in all organizations, events, venues, businesses and organized gatherings. Physical distancing is now a legal requirement in all venues up to a maximum of 50% capacity, in retail businesses, and vax pass events, including theatres, gyms, community gatherings, casinos etc.  Public venues are responsible to put measures in place to remind patrons of the requirement to maintain physical distancing, including signage and floor markers and monitoring capacity limits to support distancing. 
  • Restaurants and eating establishments must maintain 6 feet between tables and continue to require proof of vaccine for patrons; masking is required by all patrons except when actively eating and drinking. The maximum table size in an eating establishment is ten people.
  • There is to be no dancing at any event and karaoke is not permitted.
  • All indoor sport and recreational activities are paused for Island residents, regardless of age; this includes all organized sports, tournaments, competitions, games, team training and practices.   Individual recreational activities are permitted such as personal fitness, one-on-one fitness, dance, or music classes, however strict physical distancing at recreational activities is required.  
  • Employers are asked to support employees to work from home when it is operationally possible.
  • Faith-based gatherings can proceed as planned during the Christmas season respecting masking, cohorting and physical distancing requirements. 

Dr. Morrison announced 31 new cases of COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island. These cases are still under investigation. There are currently 75 active cases of COVID-19 in PEI and there have been 475 cases since the pandemic began.  A second case of Omicron variant has been confirmed in PEI, by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. 

“While we have been successful at containing COVID-19 to date, we will not be able to contain the spread of the Omicron variant. I urge all Island residents to limit their contacts by at least 50 per cent starting today. If you are questioning if you should host or attend an event or activity, the best decision is likely to not attend,” said Dr. Morrison. 

Dr. Morrison reinforced three main messages: 

  • Those eligible to be immunized or eligible for a booster should book an appointment online or call the vaccine booking line.
  • Individuals should reduce their number of contacts by 50 per cent.
  • Individuals should respect public health basics, including wearing a mask, physical distancing, getting tested if symptomatic, and staying home when not feeling well. 

As of Wednesday, December 15, 95.1 per cent of Island residents age 12 years and over have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 91.9 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses. 29.9 per cent of children age 5-11 years have received their first dose. Over 11,000 people have received their third dose or booster of COVID-19 vaccine. Approximately 8,800 individuals are eligible for a booster and have not yet received their third dose. 

As always, all Islanders are urged to get tested if they experience any symptoms of COVID-19, even after a previous negative test, and to self-isolate until the results come back. Islanders are also encouraged to download the free national COVID Alert app, which will let them know if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Anyone age 12 and over can receive their COVID-19 vaccination at one of the Health PEI clinics and those age 18 years or older can visit one of the 28 partner pharmacies across the province. Island children between the ages of five and 11 years can now receive their COVID-19 vaccination at Health PEI clinics.

For information on PEI’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including vaccine facts, immunization data and booking an appointment, visit: COVID-19 Vaccines. For answers to commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, visit: Answers to Common COVID-19 Vaccine Questions.

Backgrounder:

The Chief Public Health Office continues to work closely with the federal government, provincial and territorial counterparts, government departments and Health PEI to monitor the pandemic situation and prepare for all COVID-19 related impacts to the province, including health, social and economic. The public health risk of COVID-19 is continually reassessed, and Islanders will be updated as new information becomes available.

Everyone is encouraged to follow routine prevention measures:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue
  • Get vaccinated
  • Wear a non-medical mask in indoor places
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well
  • Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Keep your circle of contacts small
  • Physical distance - stay two meters (6 feet) apart
  • Don’t share items like drinking glasses and water bottles
  • Frequently clean surfaces like taps, doorknobs and countertops
  • Visit a drop-in-clinic to be tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms

Media Contact: Samantha Hughes Health and Wellness shughes@gov.pe.ca