Plans for ‘Atlantic bubble’ on July 3 as cases of COVID-19 stabilize

Plans for ‘Atlantic bubble’ on July 3 as cases of COVID-19 stabilize

HALIFAX — The four Atlantic provinces announced plans on Wednesday to ease interprovincial travel restrictions within the region, creating a so-called “bubble” amid relatively few new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

As of July 3, Atlantic Canadians will be allowed to travel within the region without having to self-isolate when arriving in another province.

Visitors from provinces and territories outside the region will still be required to self-isolate for two weeks and adhere to local entry requirements. However, once the self-isolation period has passed, those visitors will also be allowed to travel within the Atlantic region.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball said the decision to ease restrictions was not taken lightly.

“As this Atlantic bubble opens, it will be closely monitored as we remain committed to working together to support economic and social recovery while ensuring public health and safety,” said Ball.

Ball said if all goes well, travellers from other parts of Canada could be allowed to enter Atlantic Canada around July 17.

“Now this can only be possible if we get favourable results in the days and weeks leading into July 17,” he said. “We will never hesitate to go back if we have to.”

In Halifax, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said he was comfortable with the move given the province hasn’t had a new case of COVID-19 since June 9.

“Considering there’s been very few new cases now is the time to open it up,” McNeil said.

Each of the four Atlantic provinces will choose its own process for tracking and monitoring travellers.

In Nova Scotia, McNeil said border monitoring would involve asking people for identification in order to verify which province the traveller is from. Those with identification from outside the Atlantic region would be required to self-isolate.

The move is mainly aimed at the tourism sector, which is hoping to see increased local traffic this summer to help bolster lagging business, McNeil said.

“We are also looking at what other potential internal restrictions we could start easing off a little bit to allow us to get back to a little more economic activity within the province.”

The relaxed rules come as Nova Scotia — the most populous province in the region — had no active cases. The province had 1,061 total confirmed cases, including 63 deaths — 53 of them at a single long-term care facility in Halifax.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, where there were 261 confirmed cases and three deaths, the most recent case of COVID-19 was recorded on May 28. Like Nova Scotia, the province had no active cases as of Wednesday.

New Brunswick reported its latest case on Tuesday, but the person was in self-isolation before the diagnosis and has had no close contacts. The province has 20 active cases. Of the 165 people with confirmed infections, two have died and 143 have recovered. No new cases were reported Wednesday.

Prince Edward Island had just 27 cases of COVID-19 and all have recovered. The Island last reported a case on April 28.

In New Brunswick, virtually every business in the province is expected to be reopened by this Friday.

“Our economy is already making great progress toward reopening,” Premier Blaine Higgs told a news conference Wednesday.

He said the Campbellton region — which experienced a recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases — would join the rest of the province at the “Yellow” phase of the recovery plan on Friday.

“There are still rules we will all need to follow,” Higgs said, adding that residents of Atlantic Canada can’t leave their home province if they have travelled outside the region in the past 14 days — even if they were travelling for work.

As well, no one is permitted to travel to another province if they are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

“Peace officers will still be monitoring the borders and travellers will need to provide proof of their province of residence,” the premier said, noting that officers will use that information for contact tracing if there is an outbreak.

Higgs said there are also discussions underway about opening interprovincial travel throughout the country.

— With files from Kevin Bissett in Fredericton and Keith Doucette in Halifax.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 24, 2020.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version gave an incorrect day of the week for the announcements from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Local resident Ethel Williams is marking a very special milestone this month

The ‘Ethel Williams 100th Birthday Parade’ is taking place July 17th from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

2 dead, 8 hurt in South Carolina nightclub shooting

Police are searching for two suspects

Ponoka RCMP lay charges following home invasion

33-year-old man who arrived on bicycle is in custody

Stettler Board of Trade continues to help businesses navigate challenging times

‘Christmas in July’ is another current means of encouraging folks to ‘shop local’

Calgary singer Erin Ross to be featured at ‘Entertainment in the Park’ July 15th

Roots/blues musician can hardly recall a time when she wasn’t passionate about performing

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

‘You have to show up:’ NDP MP questions virtual attendance of Alberta Tories

NDP MP McPherson says she’s disappointed Tory MPs haven’t been participating in virtual meetings

Flood warning, mandatory evacuation for people in remote Alberta hamlet

A flood warning has been issued for the rain-swollen Smoky River near the Hamlet of Watino

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, Amnesty, sex worker advocates say

‘We need to make sure the existing laws on the books aren’t enforced’

Protesters return to St. Louis area where couple drew guns

Protesters return to St. Louis area where couple drew guns

Heavy rain floods southern Japan, leaving over dozen missing

Heavy rain floods southern Japan, leaving over dozen missing

At Rushmore, Trump says protesters seek to ‘defame’ heroes

At Rushmore, Trump says protesters seek to ‘defame’ heroes

First Nations coalition rejects recommendation to lift Sen. Beyak’s suspension

First Nations coalition rejects recommendation to lift Sen. Beyak’s suspension

Most Read