Has the Atlantic bubble already opened up to the rest of Canada?


Premier Blaine Higgs says it will be at least another week before New Brunswick even considers opening up to the rest of Canada, but in a way it has already done so thanks to its deal on the Atlantic bubble with Nova Scotia.Prince Edward Island too

The borders of Nova Scotia have never been closed to visitors.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, anyone from any province or territory has been able to enter Nova Scotia for any reason as long as they self-isolate for 14 days, Heather Fairbairn confirmed. , spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Since the start of the Atlantic bubble on July 3, these visitors have been able to move freely in the three Maritime provinces once their isolation is over. (Newfoundland and Labrador only allows residents of the Maritimes to enter, unless they have been granted exemptions.)

So even though New Brunswick has kept a tight grip on who it allows, and the conditions they must meet, anyone who wants to enter the province could enter through Nova Scotia first.

Higgs told CBC News he was “fully aware” of Nova Scotia’s policy of openness and that his visitors could continue to enter New Brunswick.

“We have the Atlantic bubble, and the idea to do that was to allow free movement of people who have isolated themselves, people who we believe should have free movement in this region,” he said. .

“We too have brought family and friends to New Brunswick, and they self-isolate for 14 days and then they are allowed to travel to different provinces in the Atlantic region.

For example, New Brunswick dropped requirements in June for out-of-province workers to self-isolate, even though Nova Scotia still requires workers living in the province and working elsewhere to self-isolate. self-isolate for 14 days upon return home.

“So this is a reciprocal type program and… so far it’s been working well,” Higgs said.

Raywat Deonandan, epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa, believes any outbreak will be caused by international travelers. (Provided by Raywat Deonandan)

Epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan calls it “surprising” and “strange”.

“I thought the idea of ​​the bubble was that the borders were completely sealed,” said Deonandan, associate professor in the faculty of health sciences at the University of Ottawa.

It also doesn’t make sense in terms of seeding control. [COVID-19] events, ”Deonandan said.

“The whole idea behind a contiguous bubble of adjacent provinces is that there should be policy consistency around how you manage borders. This is the only way it works. “

It seems Nova Scotia is the more forgiving partner, so everyone has de facto the same policy as Nova Scotia whether they like it or not.– Raywat Deonandan, epidemiologist

“If there is no consistency, what do you do? ”

Deonandan makes a comparison with social bubbles.

“You are as good as the people you trust. ” he said.

” The [Atlantic] bubble is only as good as its most forgiving partner. So it seems Nova Scotia is the more forgiving partner. Therefore, everyone has de facto the same policy as Nova Scotia whether they like it or not. ”

Deonandan points out that there is “nothing magical” about the 14-day isolation requirement either. This is a median only, based on the estimated incubation period of the coronavirus.

“You may be able to make it through the 14-day quarantine and still stay positive. ”

That said, Deonandan believes the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in the Atlantic bubble for Canadian travelers who have self-isolated for 14 days is “low.”

If outbreaks do occur, he believes they will be led by people who have traveled overseas, which has been the recent experience in other jurisdictions.

Isolation will not be necessary

When New Brunswick opens up to the rest of the country, Higgs said the 14-day isolation period will no longer be necessary.

“I will… have calls with my Atlantic colleagues about the next step, but at the moment we don’t have a date in mind for the reopening with the rest of Canada,” he said. declared on August 5.

He wants to assess the second week of New Brunswick’s bubble expansion to residents of two regions bordering Quebec without needing to self-isolate, he said.

Residents of the Regional County Municipality of Avignon, which borders the County of Restigouche and includes the Listuguj and Pointe-à-la-Croix First Nation, and the Regional County Municipality of Témiscouata, which borders the County of Madawaska , have been able to cross the province for day trips only since August 1.

Currently, New Brunswick restricts who is allowed to enter the province. (Alexandre Silberman / CBC)

Other approved reasons for entry include:

  • travel through New Brunswick to reach another destination.
  • return home to New Brunswick.
  • work-related trips.
  • child care arrangements in New Brunswick.
  • moving to New Brunswick to reside there.
  • travel related to a medical appointment.
  • resident of the Atlantic provinces
  • visit immediate family in New Brunswick.
  • land ownership in New Brunswick.
  • travel to pick up / drop off the student.
  • attend a funeral.
  • humanitarian exemption.

However, once a person has completed their 14-day isolation in one of the Atlantic provinces, they are welcome to New Brunswick, Public Safety Department spokesman Geoffrey Downey confirmed. .

New Brunswick has six active cases of COVID-19, all temporary foreign workers in Moncton who immediately isolated themselves upon arrival.

The province has recorded 176 cases of respiratory illness since the start of the pandemic in mid-March. Two people have died and 168 have recovered.

New Brunswick has six active cases of COVID-19, and the province has had a total of 176 cases since the pandemic began in March. (CBC)

Higgs said the resurgence of the virus some jurisdictions have seen is “of great concern” and any expansion should be done with caution with the start of the school year approaching.

“We want to be able to continue to bring children back to school and not be in a situation where we have seen a resurgence of the virus before that, or certainly during,” he told reporters on July 30, when of Quebec. bubble announcement.

“So I would say, you know, we’re going through these 14 days, we’re going to look at the other provinces and see where they’re going, are they up, down. And then we look at the outlook again for how we can open up. “

Higgs said he did not want to see a resurgence of the virus when school started. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

Nova Scotia is exploring possible ways to open up, but it is “not there yet,” Premier Stephen McNeil said.

No decision has been made by Prince Edward Island either.

Last week, the island began allowing recreational visits by family members of residents who are Canadian citizens or have permanent resident status, but who live outside of Atlantic Canada, provided they are ‘self-isolate for 14 days.

In June, Prince Edward Island opened its borders to Islander families in need of support, such as those living in long-term care facilities, as well as seasonal residents.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and its public health officials are in regular talks with federal, provincial and territorial partners on pan-Canadian strategies related to COVID-19, including border measures, according to a door -speak of the Department of Health and Community Services.

“No decision has been taken on further lifting the current travel ban,” she said in an emailed statement.

“Newfoundland and Labrador’s borders are closely guarded and entry protocols are strictly enforced with respect to the Atlantic Canada bubble. One of these protocols is the requirement for persons traveling to provide proof of residence in Atlantic Canada.


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