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Dr. Heather Morrison, chief medical officer for Prince Edward Island, speaks to the media after at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, P.E.I., on Dec. 16, 2020.Brian McInnis /The Canadian Press

Prince Edward Island announced Wednesday it is bringing back its mask mandate and introducing new testing rules for children as the province reported five new COVID-19 infections.

Premier Dennis King told reporters masks will be required once again in indoor public spaces beginning Friday at 8 a.m.

All children between 8 and 12 years old will have to take a COVID-19 test upon entering the province, and any child in that age group who has left the Island will have to be tested before returning to school, King said. Followup tests are required four and eight days later.

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“All of these measures are designed to keep Prince Edward Island open, while keeping our province safe,” King said, adding that the measures will be in place for the “foreseeable future.”

Dr. Heather Morrison, the Island’s chief public health officer, said four of the new cases are connected to an outbreak at West Royalty Elementary School in Charlottetown. Schools in the capital were closed this week so crews could trace contacts and clean the facilities, and King said in-person learning would resume Thursday at all schools except West Royalty Elementary. It will reopen next week.

The premier said officials are working hard on a vaccine passport system similar to the one introduced in Nova Scotia, and he expects it to be ready in early October.

Government data shows nearly 84 per cent of eligible Islanders were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Saturday, and over 92 per cent had received at least one dose.

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