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Your business and COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island

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To help you navigate these challenging times, this page provides information on pandemic-related restrictions, support measures, government services, and useful CFIB resources for Prince Edward Island. You’ll also learn how CFIB is fighting for your business.

April 19th 2021 – PEI has strengthened border restrictions. To see how this will impact your business please see the Public Health Measures and Restrictions section below.

Since March 13th post-circuit breaker measures have been in place, and will continue to be in place till May 2021. For details on how these circuit breaker measures will impact your business, please see the Public Health Measures and Restrictions section below.

There are multiple supporting programs offered by the PEI government that your business may be eligible for. To see details on highlighted programs, please see the Financial Relief and Government Support section below. 

Use our operational plan template

Protecting your staff, customers, and business is a top priority, so we’ve put together an operational plan template to help you do just that. With tips for best practices, advice on meeting provincial compliance requirements, and links to downloadable COVID-19 resources, the plan is clear, concise, and easy to tailor to your needs.


Public health measures & restrictions

Business Restrictions
Post-circuit breaker measures:

On Friday, March 12th Dr. Morrison announced the easing of some public health restrictions, and the current post-circuit breaker measures. The following measures came into place on Saturday, March 13th and will remain in place till May 2021:

  • Gyms/fitness facilities, museums and libraries may operate if physical distancing and other public health measures are followed and group activities follow gathering limits
  • Retail stores, markets and craft fairs may operate if physical distancing and other public health measures are maintained
  • In-person consumption of food and drink at restaurants and bars can have a maximum table size of 10 and must close by 12:00 am. There is a limit of 50 people in these establishments with an additional three groups of 50 permitted with an approved operational plan 
  • Concerts, worship services, and movie theatres are permitted to operate with a limit of 50 people. 
    • Three additional groups of 50 (200 total) are permitted with an approved operational plan
  • Weddings (ceremonies and receptions) and funerals can have up to 50 people, plus officiants, and are not eligible for multiple cohorts
  • Unlicensed and licensed childcare centres will continue to operate at 100% capacity
  • As of April 1, 2021, for facilities with high rates of resident vaccination:
    • Up to three partners in care. Designated number of visitors permitted
    • Residents permitted to leave facilities with Partners in Care or Visitors  
    • Strict public health and control measures
Atlantic Bubble & Travel Requirements for Workers
Atlantic Bubble:

Interprovincial Travel is not recommended at this time.

Participation in the Atlantic Travel Bubble continues to be suspended, PEI will continue to reassess further participation.

For non-Island resident workers entering PEI from outside the Atlantic region:
  • Workers who are not island residents and are entering from outside the Atlantic region must be tested in the 72 hours before arriving in to PEI and bring their negative test result with you to be able to enter PEI
  • Non-resident commercial truck drivers travelling to PEI are not required to have a pre-departure test provided they follow contactless loading and unloading procedures and other required measures while in PEI
For all workers (including Islanders and non-residents) entering PEI to work who have travelled outside of the Atlantic region in the past 14 days:
  • A first negative test result in PEI is now required to enter any workplace, as well as testing every second day for the first 14 days on PEI (or duration of stay if shorter than 14 days)
  • Non-resident commercial truck drivers travelling to PEI are not required to be tested provided they follow contactless loading and unloading procedures and other required measures while in PEI
  • For PEI resident commercial truck drivers whose scheduled trip is less than 24 hours since their arrival to PEI and are unable to be tested, OR they have not yet received their test result, they may continue with your truck driving provided:
    • They do not have any symptoms
    • They do not enter any workplaces in PEI, and any outdoor interactions are physically distant
    • Prior to entering any workplaces in PEI, a first negative test result is required.
For Islander roational workers and truck drivers who have travelled outside the Atlantic region in the past 14 days:
  • Island resident rotational workers and commercial truck drivers are now required to isolate until their first negative test (including vaccinated individuals) as well as adhere to testing regimen and other existing measures.


Registering as a rotational worker or applying for work-isolation:

Islanders who frequently travel within Atlantic Canada for work or Atlantic Canadians who frequently travel to Prince Edward Island to work, including rotational workers and truck drivers, mustapply to work-isolate or register as a rotational worker.

Islanders do not require pre-travel approval to return to the province, but will be required to self-isolate or apply to work-isolate for 14 days upon their return. 

Anyone who performs paid work in Prince Edward Island may be eligible to work-isolate. Once approved to work-isolate, you must respect the public health measures for work-isolation. The PEI government has information on self-isolation and work-isolation on their website.

Islanders working in long-term care or community care who travel off-Island will not be eligible to work isolate.

Mandatory Mask Regulations

Non-medical masks are now mandatory in all public enclosed spaces in PEI. Businesses and operators are encouraged to update their operational plans to include the requirement for masks on the premises. Resubmission of these plans, however, is not necessary. Businesses and operators are also encouraged to download this sign provided by the Chief Public Health Office, or produce their own, and display it on the premises.

Commonly asked questions:

What is considered an enclosed public place?

  • Retail businesses, shopping centres, buildings, or rooms of businesses where services are provided to the public
  • Restaurants or drinking establishments (except when drinking or eating)
  • Places of worship and faith gatherings
  • Arts, cultural, entertainment venues
  • Sports and recreation facilities (except during physical activity)
  • Spaces used to hold events, including conferences, conventions, and receptions
  • Government buildings that provide public services
  • Common areas in office buildings and tourist accommodation establishments, such as lobbies, reception areas, elevators, stairwells
  • Common areas on university or college campuses
  • Bus stations, ferry terminals, airports
  • Public transit, public passenger vehicles, taxis

Are masks required even when physical partitions (Plexiglas) are in place?

Yes, masks are still required, even when physical distancing can be maintained, or barriers (such as plexiglass) are present.

Who is exempt from wearing a mask?

  • Children under the age of 2
  • Children between the ages of 2 and 5 who cannot be persuaded to wear a mask
  • Anyone who cannot remove a mask without assistance
  • Individuals with a valid medical reason (most people with underlying medical conditions can wear a mask safely)
  • Individuals during relevant treatments, services, or physical activity
  • Individuals during the consumption of food or drink

What about workers in a more private setting that is not publicly accessible? Ex: office cubicle, or kitchen?

If the area in which you are working is not open to the public, including private office buildings and cubicles or kitchen spaces that are not accessible to patrons, wearing a mask is not mandatory. However, even in private workplaces, masks are strongly encouraged, particularly when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

What is my responsibility as a business owner regarding mask enforcement?

The operator of a business or public space should ensure that every person who is not wearing a mask while in the premises is provided with a single verbal reminder to do so as soon as possible following entry. 

Businesses can also consider offering complimentary masks to customers. If a customer refuses to put on a mask after the business has prompted them to, the business has done what is expected of them. 

The primary objective is to educate, inform and gain voluntary compliance. However, it is important to note that some people cannot wear masks for medical reasons and that sometimes these reasons are not visible. Businesses are not required to ask customers for proof of exemptions. Islanders are encouraged to be kind and show compassion and understanding.

Can I refuse entry to customers who are not wearing a mask?

Businesses can refuse entry if the masking requirements are not followed. However, we would not advise businesses to risk the safety of their staff to enforce the rule.

There is also a FAQ page that the Department of Health and Wellness has posted (and will update as they receive more commonly asked questions).

Financial relief & government support

Grants & supporting programs
New - Tourism Activation Grant:

The Tourism Activation Grant provides eligible tourism businesses with a non-repayable grant of at least $2,500 to a maximum of $50,000 towards eligible expenses incurred prior to July 1st to assist with opening costs for the 2021 season.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Operators who had at least $25,000 in gross revenues for 2019
  • Operators who can demonstrate a minimum 30% decrease in tourism related revenues for 2020 compared to 2019
  • The tourism operation, and head office must be located on PEI; and the business must be registered with an appropriate licence to operate prior to April 1, 2020
  • New businesses without historical revenues may have their eligibility determined on a case-by-case basis

Eligible operators include:

  • Accommodation operators
  • Food and beverage services (e.g: restaurant, bar, brewery)
  • Local artisans and artists
  • Locally owned tourist focused retail and gift shops
  • Attractions
  • Tourism service/ experience providers
  • Event companies
  • Adventure and tour operators
Covid-19 Special Leave Fund:

The COVID-19 Special Leave Fund is a short-term, temporary support for self-employed people and workers who cannot return to work due to illness or COVID-19 testing/self-isolation requirements. To qualify individuals must not be eligible for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) or have paid sick leave.

Employers/self-employed people may apply to the program for themselves or their employees, for a maximum of 3 days per week on up to 2 separate occasions to a maximum of 6 days for loss of wages that are less than 50% of scheduled time in a one-week period.

The program will continue till the Public Health Emergency has ended.

Employer eligibility:

  • Employer must be a for-profit business or not-for-profit organization;
  • Employer has physical operations located on Prince Edward Island;
  • Employer is registered to do business in Prince Edward Island; 
  • Employer Is in good standing with the Province’s Central Default Registry; and
  • Employer Is paying PEI-based employees for scheduled time missed due to illness or COVID-19 testing or self-isolation requirements, for which the employee does not qualify for sick paid leave under their employment agreement, or qualify for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, other provincial programs, or other income replacement or insurance program.

Self-employed individual eligibility:

  • Self-employed person is actively earning income from the business;
  • Self-employed person declared business income on their most recent tax return;
  • Self-employed person has business income as their primary source of income;
  • Self-employed person demonstrates direct personal financial losses due to illness or COVID-19 testing or self-isolation requirements; 
  • Self-employed person is in good standing with the Province’s Central Default Registry; and
  • Self-employed person is not eligible for, or receiving other income support through Business Interruption Insurance, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, other provincial programs, or any other income replacement or insurance programs.
Web Presence Assistance Program:

The Web Presence Assistance Program is a two tiered program that provides a 50% contribution to a maximum of $1000 - $2500 depending on the program stream, towards the eligible costs of creating a website or to upgrade an existing website to include e-commerce. This program is now permanent, and open to any Island business.

Broadband Fund for Businesses:

The Prince Edward Island Broadband Fund for Business provides financial assistance to local Prince Edward Island internet service providers (ISPs), communities and businesses for the installation of infrastructure for enhanced broadband services.

Loans & loan deferrals
Emergency Working Capital Financing

The government has announced Emergency Working Capital Financing to help small businesses maintain normal business operations. Each qualified company is eligible to receive up $100,000. To qualify, you must be:

  • An existing small business (start-ups are not eligible) located and operating in PEI, and have been generating revenue on PEI 
  • Registered to conduct business within PEI
  • Satisfactory in terms of credit rating and without any defaulted outstanding debt obligation on file in the Province’s Central Default Registry

More information on eligibility and repayment terms, along with the application form, can be found on the government website.

As well, the government is:

  • deferring all scheduled loan payments for clients of Finance PEI, Island Investment Development Inc., and the PEI Century Fund for the next 3 months; 
  • providing $4.5 million to Community Business Development Corporations across the province to deliver financing to small business and entrepreneurs; and
  • providing a temporary allowance of $200 per week for anyone who has experienced a significant drop in their working hours.

There is a toll-free support line for businesses at 1-866-222-1751 between 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or you can email [email protected]

Tourism Assistance Measures

The government has developed a funding program to support the PEI Tourism Operators. The program provides funding in the form of a repayable loan to qualified applicants. Interest payments on loans approved through this program will qualify for interest relief (interest payment made on behalf of the client) from Tourism PEI for a period of 18 months with Finance PEI offering principal deferrals to match the same 18 month period. 

Licensing, inspection, and Tourism PEI advertising fees are waved for the 2020 operating season

PEI Fish Harvester Emergency Loan and Interest Relief Program

The Prince Edward Island Fish Emergency Loan Program is a targeted loan portfolio offered by Finance PEI and the PEI Credit Unions. It provides loans up to $25,000 to Islander harvesters at 4 per cent interest over a five-year term. The principal will be deferred for the first 18 months. In addition, the Department of Fisheries and Communities will pay interest on behalf of the borrower for the first 18 months.

The Interest Relief Program will support fish harvesters with up to 12 months of interest relief and service debt costs on a maximum of $250 million at an average interest rate of 5 per cent. Fish harvesters that can demonstrate a 30 per cent or more decrease in fish-related revenues for the 2020 fishing season will be eligible.

Employee management

Employment standards/Labour legislation change

If you need to lay off employees temporarily, there is no requirement to give or pay notice since the employee is not being terminated, but rather being put on a leave of absence not currently covered by Employment Standards.

If you do not intend to have the employee return to work after the crisis is over, then it is a termination and notice requirements must be met. If government directs the closure of a business due to COVID-19, it is likely the notice requirement will be waived; however, this will be judged on a case-by-case basis. 

Note: PEI’s new Emergency Leave is available retroactively to March 16, 2020, the date a Public Health Emergency was first declared in Prince Edward Island in relation to COVID-19. This new leave allows for unpaid sick leave for workers required to be absent from work due to an emergency, and the leave will continue for as long as an employee cannot work due to an emergency.

Employer obligations/OHS
COVID-19 Operational Plan - requirement

As businesses were allowed to re-open they were required to create and implement a COVID-19 Operational plan. 

  • The plan must follow the recommendations and requirements of Public Health.
  • The plan must outline how your business will manage the safe opening and operation of your business.
  • A copy of the plan must be present at the workplace and available for review by government officials.
  • The Environmental Health Office can perform both random and complaint-based inspections unannounced at your place of business.

The province has released the following sector specific guidance that must be part of the COVID-19 Operational plan:

Businesses who require clarifications on the Operational Plan can contact Environmental Health at 1-800-958-6400 or email [email protected]

General guidance for businesses, services, and organizations

Owners and operators of workplaces that are permitted to continue serving the public must ensure the following measures are in place:

  • Take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of people (including employees and/or clients) within two metres (six feet) of each other.
  • Take every reasonable step to prevent employees who are required to self-isolate as provided from entering workplaces.
  • Develop and follow a policy that ensures symptomatic employees are immediately sent home and told to follow public health guidelines.
  • Develop and follow an operational plan detailing how risk of transmission of disease will be mitigated.
  • Ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and surfaces.
  • Ensure hand washing stations are available.

Additional guidance to support owners and operators to meet the Public Health Order requirements:

  • Non-medical masks are recommended when physical distancing cannot be maintained.  Non-medical masks are not to be used as a replacement for physical distancing.
  • Entry into a business, including lines, should be regulated to prevent congestion.
  • Businesses should post external signs indicating COVID-19 physical distancing protocols, along with floor marking where service is provided or lines form.
  • Equipment, instruments, and tools that cannot be disinfected between clients should not be re-used.
  • Customers should be encouraged to use credit or debit cards for payment. Limit contact by allowing customers to scan/tap/swipe their own cards.
  • Employees who must handle cash or credit cards should practice proper hand hygiene. When hands are not visibly soiled and between customer interactions, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used.
  • Employees should wash their hands with soap and water when hands are visibly soiled, before and after any breaks, at the beginning and end of their shift, and before preparing food.
  • Limit the exchange of papers (e.g., signing contracts). If documents must be exchanged, leave them on a clean surface while maintaining a two-metre (six foot) distance. Avoid sharing pens and office equipment. Disinfect after each use.
  • Staff are to self-monitor for symptoms and report to their supervisor if they have concerns about possible COVID exposure or positive symptoms.
  • If a staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 at work they should immediately perform hand hygiene, report to manager, avoid contact with staff and leave as soon as it is safe to do so. Please call 811 to arrange testing.
  • Symptomatic staff will be required to self-isolate until they are tested, and the results are confirmed.
  • If the test results are negative for COVID-19 but the staff member remains ill/symptomatic, they should remain on sick leave.
  • If the test results are negative for COVID-19 and the staff member is no longer ill/symptomatic, they may return to work, unless the individual has been advised otherwise by public health and provided there are no other reasons the individual is required to self-isolate (e.g., travel history, someone in the household is positive for COVID-19, or symptomatic and waiting for testing).
  • If the test results are positive for COVID-19 the employee follows the direction of Public Health and remains self-isolated for 14 days.
Guidance for workplaces with offices
  • Continue working from home/telework arrangements wherever possible and feasible, especially for individuals considered vulnerable to COVID-19 (people age 65 and over, people with chronic illnesses, and people with compromised immune systems).
  • Encourage sick employees to stay home.
  • Implement measures to reduce physical contact and limit the number of people in the office, including flexible work hours, staggered start times, and the use of email and teleconference over in-person meetings.
  • Ensure two metre (six feet) separation between workstations and individuals, particularly in open office environments.
  • Use visual cues like floor markings to encourage two metre (six feet) physical separation.
  • Avoid gatherings of employees during breaks, meetings, and mealtimes.
  • Consider closing meeting rooms or implement controls on the number of employees permitted in common areas and meeting rooms to ensure physical distancing is maintained.
  • If employees must travel together, follow the Guidance on Public Health Measures – Travelling in Vehicles.
  • Avoid sharing of equipment and office supplies.
  • Clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces at least twice/day. Office equipment that must be shared (i.e., shared printers) should be cleaned before and after each use.
  • Increase washroom cleanings.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. 
  • Have tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and no-touch disposal receptacles available for employees.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or sleeve, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Always maintain a two metre (six feet) distance between employees and customers.
  • Install physical barriers between employees and visitors/customers in reception areas if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Print and post safety information related to the above in your workplace where it can be seen by employees and visitors.
  • Non-medical masks should be used when physical distancing cannot be maintained. Non-medical masks are not a replacement for any of the above measures.

In Prince Edward Island, the vaccine is being rolled out in three phases to key populations. The vaccine will eventually be available to all PEI residents 18 and older who wish to be immunized against COVID-19.

Phase 1: December 2020 – March 2021
  • Residents and staff of long-term and community care
  • Health care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure
  • Seniors 80 years of age and older
  • Adults 18 years of age and older living in Indigenous communities
  • Residents and staff of other residential or shared living facilities (e.g., group homes, residential care, shelters, corrections)
  • Truck drivers and other rotational workers
Phase 2: April - June 2021
  • Anyone in priority groups remaining from Phase 1
  • Health care workers not included in Phase 1
  • Seniors 70 years of age and older
  • Essential workers
Phase 3: Summer – Fall 2021
  • Anyone in priority groups remaining from Phase 2
  • General public
Commonly asked questions:

When can I sign-up to get the vaccine?

  • Government is engaging with the priority groups identified above to be immunized.
  • Only people who are in those groups identified in each phase of the immunization program can be vaccinated during that time.
  • Learn more about getting the COVID-19 vaccine in Prince Edward Island.
  • Vaccinations will be offered by scheduled appointment only to ensure COVID-19 public health measures, such as physical distancing, can be maintained.
  • Government will let Islanders know when they can get vaccinated and how they can make an appointment when that information is available.

Where will I get the vaccine?

Clinics have been set up to efficiently deliver the vaccine to priority groups.

At this time, vaccinations are scheduled by appointment for current priority groups. COVID-19 public health measures are strictly maintained throughout the vaccination process.

As the province enters the second and third phases of its vaccine immunization rollout, it will restructure its clinics to best serve the community. 

More information on COVID-19 immunization clinics will be provided as the province enters the second phase of its vaccine immunization rollout.    

How many doses of the vaccine will I need to get?

The initial vaccines that will be available to Prince Edward Island will require a person to receive two doses.

When you receive your vaccination, you will also get information about the type of vaccine you've received and when you will need to get the second dose.  

Will the vaccine cost anything?

No. The vaccine will be free across Canada.

Rapid testing

On February 23rd Dr. Morrison announced that a new COVID-19 rapid testing pilot project at the Charlottetown Airport will help inform the province’s testing approach going forward. Many travelers arriving in PEI (e.g., rotational workers) are required to get tested on day 0-1, 4-6, and 9-11 when they arrive in PEI. The pilot project would allow them to receive their first test at the airport. The requirement to follow isolation protocols following travel into Prince Edward Island remains in place. By participating in the pilot testing project, travelers arriving by air can be swabbed for their first test at the airport. Participants in the pilot study who are required to get tested again at days 4-6 and 9-11 after arrival will be able to access the additional testing at one of PEI’s drop-in testing clinics. 

Mental health

With Canada firmly in the grip of COVID-19, it is anything but business as usual.  Many businesses are closing their doors and laying off staff, others have employees refusing to come to work. We are all stressed and everyone is worried about their health and financial well-being.  Amidst this turbulence, you as a business leader are scrambling to keep your business afloat while leading your staff through these uncertain times.

Here are links to resources you can access if you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Prince Edward Island:

What CFIB is doing in Prince Edward Island

What we’re asking for
As we regularly communicate with the Prince Edward Island government to get answers to your questions, we are actively lobbying them to:
  • Ensure shutdowns are consistent and targeted to the sectors of greatest concern, as backed by transparent healthcare policy evidence;
  • Impose lockdowns fairly to ensure an uneven playing field is not created between large and small businesses. As an example, if retailers are required to close, ensure that big box retailers that sell groceries are limited to providing essential services only and not permitted to sell non-essential goods in-store during the lockdown period;
  • Review and update lockdown measures regularly to avoid any business being closed longer than necessary;
  • Ensure provincial small business support programs are available to all sectors, when their operations are affected by increased public health restrictions;
  • Ensure provincial small business support programs are available to businesses of all sizes;
  • Extend availability of provincial small business support programs for as long as public health measures restrict the ability of businesses to operate;
  • Extend current and future provincial small business support programs to businesses that began operating during the pandemic;
  • Ensure the application process for provincial small business support programs are simple;
  • Convert provincial small businesses support programs introduced during the pandemic from “deferrals/loans” to “holidays/grants”;
  • Actively promote consumer confidence, and spending within small businesses.

Learn more on how CFIB is fighting for better relief at the federal level.

Additional resources

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