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Dr. Heather Morrison speaks to the media, on Dec. 16, 2020 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.Brian McInnis /The Canadian Press

Prince Edward Island’s chief public health officer says COVID-19 restrictions will be eased further next week as the province enters Step 2 of its reopening plan.

Dr. Heather Morrison told reporters Tuesday that starting March 17, the limit on personal outdoor gatherings will rise to 50 people from 20 people. The indoor gathering limit, however, remains at 20 people.

Morrison said retail stores, fitness facilities, museums, casinos and libraries will be allowed to operate at 75 per cent capacity instead of 50 per cent.

Screening for COVID-19 at points of entry will become randomized.

Morrison said she continues to expect that the final step of the government’s reopening plan will occur on or before April 7, when gathering limits and masking requirements are expected to be lifted.

She also announced that the government is limiting access to PCR testing because demand is straining capacity. She said only close contacts of positive cases will be required to get tested – and only if they are symptomatic and live or work in a high-risk setting.

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