“We need these people”: New Brunswick businesses eagerly await visitors to the Quebec – New Brunswick border

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The impact of northern New Brunswick soon having a travel “bubble” – the removal of isolation requirements on arrival – with neighboring communities in Quebec will help people and businesses, but to what extent?
The New Brunswick government announced Thursday that it will also bubble with Listuguj First Nation, the regional municipal counties of Avignon and Témiscouata when the pending Atlantic bubble opens by the 19th. April; a plan that depends on controlling COVID-19 cases and advice from senior health officials.

But the Quebec bubbles are also conditional. People would only be allowed to enter the province if they have not traveled outside of those areas in the past two weeks, or if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine two weeks before their visit.

Residents of the Restigouche River are certainly anxiously awaiting the effects that the planned and relaxed restrictions could have.

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Almost a quarter of business in the Campbellton region comes from the Quebec side, says Luc Couturier, president of the regional chamber of commerce and owner of Café Chez Wes.

“It’s a city separated by a bridge,” he told Global News. A meeting was held with Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, earlier this month, he said.

“We gave an example like… closing the bridge in Fredericton, on both sides. What’s going to happen? Close the bridge at Miramichi. What’s going to happen? He said. “We are in the same situation. It’s a city. We need these people to survive and they need us too.

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Across the river, separated by the JC Van Horne Bridge and a provincial border, is the Listuguj First Nation. Chief Darcy Gray says easing travel restrictions will benefit many, especially this time of year.

“The timing is good, at the end of winter. Looking at February, March as two months which are traditionally very tough for people outside of the pandemic, ”he said in an interview. “Add a pandemic to that. It’s heavy… It was really heavy.

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Gray is also encouraged that students in his community can return to Sugarloaf High School in Campbellton, New Brunswick on April 6 after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines last week.

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Students were excluded from in-person learning on the New Brunswick side following a decision in October 2020, when cases of COVID-19 emerged in the Campbellton area, including one in the school. However, Listuguj has only had around 20 cases since the start of the pandemic, Gray says.

On the other border of Quebec, near the Edmundston region, businesses have also been hit hard. This region was the only one to be locked out after the province’s initial shutdown when COVID-19 first entered the Maritimes. Stricter measures meant more business closures and restrictions.

The local chamber of commerce is hoping for more visitors.

“Summer is coming… Tourism absolutely needs help,” says Cathy Pelletier, Executive Director of the Edmundston Region Chamber of Commerce. She says it is difficult to compare communities and who has been most affected by the COVID-19 restrictions because each region is different.

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But they need more than just open regional borders, she says. Pelletier says businesses need financial support from the province to help them move on to the end of the pandemic.

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A company that owns businesses in the sector hardest hit by the pandemic – hospitality and tourism – says there could be a slight boost from Quebec travelers.

Mylène Roy, director of operations and human resources at Groupe Cyr Admin, which owns two local restaurants, hotels and a clothing store, says it certainly won’t have a huge impact.

“Our region is geographically isolated from the rest of the Atlantic provinces,” she says. “People won’t go to Edmundston from Halifax if they can’t go further and then come back without having to self-isolate for 14 days.

When New Brunswick was bubbling up, or “twinned” with these regions of Quebec before, Nova Scotia always required visitors from outside the Atlantic region to self-isolate upon entering.

Roy says visitors to the neighboring Quebec community wouldn’t stay in hotels if they were only a short drive from home, so their hotels are in desperate need of opening borders to the rest. from Canada. The Témiscouata bubble will help restaurants, she says.

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