Prince Edward Island is no longer requiring people to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
The announcement was made during the province’s COVID-19 briefing on July 9.
“Effective immediately, there is further easing of mask requirements and in P.E.I. non-medical masks are no longer required,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief medical officer of health.
While masks will no longer be mandated, it’s not a blanket invitation for Islanders to go maskless. Masks are still recommended for those who are not fully vaccinated and those who work in the service industry.
“Masks remain an important layer of protection around people who we do not know, or who may not be fully protected against COVID-19,” said Morrison.
P.E.I. opened its borders to Atlantic Canadians on June 27 and was using rapid tests to test travellers upon arrival. Over 25,000 individuals have been tested through the program and there have been no positive results.
“The decrease in case counts in the Atlantic provinces and through Canada, coupled with our extensive testing data and of course our increasing vaccine rates, gives us a degree of confidence that the risk of importation of COVID-19 into P.E.I. is low,” said Morrison.
The province has also decided to lift the testing requirement for all travellers who have a PEI Pass.
To date, P.E.I. has vaccinated nearly 74 per cent of its population, but only 27 per cent have received a second dose. In both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, it’s the second dose rate that matters most when considering when to remove mask rules.
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On Wednesday, Nova Scotia chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said the province wouldn’t lift its mask mandates until 75 per cent of Nova Scotians were fully vaccinated with two doses.
“We can’t remove this layer of protection, the public health measures until the layer of two-dose vaccine coverage is strong enough,” said Strang.
As of Friday, 37 per cent of Nova Scotians had received both doses, with 73 per cent having at least their first dose.
Nova Scotia’s top doctor pointed to the Delta variant as a major concern as it is more transmissible and individuals with just one dose of vaccine are not protected from it.
New Brunswick’s health minister outlined a similar approach for that province, saying it will remove all COVID-19 regulations including mask rules when 75 per cent of eligible people have been fully vaccinated.
The province is more than halfway toward that goal with 47 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers fully vaccinated.
“Once the mandatory order is lifted, government will no longer be enforcing the current rules and restrictions,” Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said during a briefing on Wednesday.
“It will be up to businesses whether they return immediately to pre-pandemic operations of if they prefer to do so gradually.”
The province anticipates to hit its vaccination goal in early August.
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