Prince Edward Island residents have a new rallying cry against COVID-19 and it comes directly from the lips of their premier.
It’s now landed on a T-shirt.
Premier Dennis King says he was expressing the frustrations of many Islanders who he said are growing sick and tired of the “body blows” being delivered by the ongoing pandemic. He said it is time to fight back.
“I want to find a way to say FU to COVID,” King told Charlottetown radio station Ocean 100.
A little more than an hour later, Allstar Cresting in Charlottetown was marketing a T-shirt with FU COVID. Their online posting said, “Gotta love a premier who says it like it is.”
The posting went on to say King “does not hold back.”
In an interview with CBC, King said he hopes Islanders take it as a rallying cry, to help them fight through what has been a difficult couple of months.
He said he can help Islanders push back against the pandemic by getting three mainstays of the next couple of months back on schedule.
That’s what he was referencing when he made the comment, he said.
“I did say that there were three things that I want to find a way to do, albeit we will have to do them, perhaps, differently,” said King.
Those include ensuring high school graduates can have a proper graduation and prom.
He also wants to help the Confederation Centre of the Arts stage Anne of Green Gables.
The premier also wants to find a way to hold the Gold Cup and Saucer, one of the most celebrated harness racing events in Eastern Canada.
“I didn’t mean it to be anything more than just an indication of what I feel but, I think, [it’s a] sentiment many Islanders would feel and could relate to,” the premier said.
Joel Watts, co-owner of Allstar Cresting, along with his twin brother, Jeremy, said they had the T-shirt produced within an hour of the comment being made.
“[The premier] just said something about FU COVID and as soon as we heard that we thought that was pretty funny and thought we should come up with a design,” said Joel Watts.
“We’ve sold T-shirts from one end of the Island to the other actually. People are getting a great kick out of it.”
The Watts are also giving back with their T-shirts.
Helping others through T-shirt sales
A $10 gift card comes with every purchase. Those gift cards are being purchased from local businesses, including salons, restaurants and automotive shops.
He said the pandemic has been tough on their company. They have had to lay off most of their 10 employees.
“We wanted a way so it wasn’t just going to help just our business,” he said.
King said he got a chuckle when he saw the social media posting promoting the T-shirts shortly after making the comment.
“Good on them,” said King, who said he’s received feedback from friends, family and those in political circles.
King said he reached out to Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil when his comment, ‘Stay the Blazes Home’ went viral, sparking T-shirts, mugs and songs.
The P.E.I. premier reached out to his Nova Scotia counterpart again after he got his own T-shirt.
‘I would be shocked if somebody wasn’t upset’
“I said, in my text, ‘This isn’t Stay the Blazes Home, but this might be as good as it gets for the P.E.I. premier’ and we laughed about that.”
King hopes nobody will take offence to his comments. But he said that’s likely to happen.
“I would be shocked if somebody wasn’t upset or offended and maybe the two letters referenced, people might suggest that type of vernacular might not be appropriate but I hope it’s taken as it was meant,” said King.
“If it can become a rallying cry to help get us through this then great, so be it.”
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.
How can I protect myself?
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
Practise physical distancing.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.