Charlottetown’s major junior hockey team will have to follow strict COVID-19 rules when it resumes play this weekend or face the penalty box.
During her weekly briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I. chief public health officer, said she was scheduled to meet with management of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) team later in the day to go over the rules.
Three teams in the Maritimes — Charlottetown Islanders, Halifax Mooseheads and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles — have been cleared to play. The teams based out of New Brunswick are still in limbo due to the high case counts in the province.
The Islanders travel to Sydney, N.S., for a game on Friday against Cape Breton followed by a stop in Halifax on Sunday. Charlottetown’s first home game is against Halifax on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
“I do need to be clear that players, coaches and managers leaving P.E.I. to play hockey, similar to P.E.I. residents, will need to isolate for 14 days when they return to the province," Morrison said, adding that those players, coaches and managers are eligible to apply to work isolate.
“That means they are in self-isolation except when attending the rink for official practices or games. They will not be allowed to visit with friends, go to stores, school, work outside the arena, go to restaurants and they cannot leave their property except to go to the arena. When their games or practices are over, they are to go directly home to self-isolate away from others."
Anyone on the team breaking the rules will be charged, which will impact the team.
Players will be able to remain with their billet families but will have to isolate away from members of the family while in the home.
Players will be tested, but Morrison said a negative test does not mean they will be released from isolation.
As for players and staff with Halifax or Cape Breton, all individuals will be tested upon arrival to play in Charlottetown and be subject to the same work isolation rules.
As for fans at Eastlink Centre, current public health rules allow 200 people to attend games.
While Island residents are being told to avoid all non-essential travel off of P.E.I., Morrison said the difference in this case is that the Charlottetown Islanders, and the Quebec league, is considered a business by the Chief Public Health Office.
“We’re not deciding which work is more important than other work, so that’s why they would follow the same rules for work-isolate," she said.
Outside of the QMJHL, Morrison said the only other P.E.I.-based team that would be eligible to apply for work-isolation is the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey
League. However, no date has been chosen to return to league games.
Craig Foster, president of operations with the Islanders, said the team has been working with the league and the province to make sure all necessary protocols are followed.
“We’re doing the best job we can to make sure everyone is safe and we’re going to continue to evaluate things on a week-to-week basis," Foster said. “We’re just excited to drop the puck."
Foster said the rules will be followed to the letter of the law. On the upcoming road trip, for example, the bus will leave Charlottetown and the players will not step off the bus until it reaches the arena in Sydney.
“We’re not going to be stopping at the mall, and there will be no stopping somewhere to eat dinner."
Morrison also spoke Tuesday about the ongoing issue with Islanders who are not following isolation rules.
In the past week, eight charges have been laid for a total of 85 since a public health emergency was declared last March.
“Failing to isolate or lying to a public health official is an offence under the Public Health Act," she said. “In the event a person is not self-isolating as required and if that individual chooses to obstruct the investigation in any other way there may be two charges laid."
At present, 500 Island homes are in isolation while 17,000 households have completed 14 days of isolation since the pandemic began. A total of 1,000 Islanders are in isolation.
Morrison said her department is also going to be cracking down on restaurants. Her office has had complaints that some operators are not following physical distancing rules.
“We will be conducting evening inspections of restaurants in the coming days to ensure compliance with the current guidelines, (but) if a restaurant looks too crowded it likely is. We all have a responsibility to make good choices. Do not enter an establishment if it looks too crowded and physical distancing cannot be maintained."
This story initially appeared on the website followung the COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday:
As some provinces still struggle to get a second wave of COVID-19 under control, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says there are no new confirmed cases in P.E.I.
Morrison provided the update during her regular weekly briefing this morning.
With no new cases, there remain six active cases in P.E.I., which has seen no hospitalizations or deaths from the virus.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 110 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in P.E.I.
During her briefing, Morrison touched on several issues, including a recent slowdown in the production of the Pfizer vaccine, which she said means there is no shipment to the province this week.
There will be a shipment next week, Morrison said, adding that second doses were held back so there is flexibility to adjust to the slowdown.
Morrison said P.E.I. is still receiving the Moderna vaccine.
Rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines is the most complex and logistically challenging vaccination program ever undertaken in P.E.I., Morrison said.
Morrison said there have been questions about a P.E.I. and Nova Scotia bubble, but given the situation in Canada, non-essential travel outside of P.E.I. is strongly discouraged.
Now is not the time to leave P.E.I. unless it is absolutely necessary, Morrison said.
She also said the situation in N.B. is an example of how quickly the virus spreads.
Morrison said she has heard concerns some restaurants are crowded and that businesses and customers aren’t complying with guidelines.
Morrison said that if a restaurant looks too crowded it likely is and people shouldn’t enter if physical distancing can’t be maintained.
Posted by Prince Edward Island Government on Tuesday, 26 January 2021