COVID-19 round-up for Wednesday, June 24 – Atlantic provinces form travel bubble

Screenshot NB Premier Blaine Higgs.

New Brunswick – “Today I’m pleased to announce that at the end of next week, New Brunswickers will be able to travel freely within the Atlantic provinces,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs during a press conference from Fredericton this afternoon.

“Beginning Friday, July 3, residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to travel within the four Atlantic provinces,” he added.

“Within the Atlantic provinces, because out numbers are all quite low, we feel very confident that we can move freely without that 14 day self-isolation right now, so that’s a good thing,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jennifer Russell.

Russell said in discussion with the other chief medical officers of health in the Atlantic provinces, it was agreed although the increased movement was an increased risk, it was an acceptable risk.

She said social determinants and socioeconomic factors contribute largely to that accepted risk, and that residents must remain vigilant for symptoms and signs of the virus.

On July 3, New Brunswickers will be able to cross interprovincial borders into the other Atlantic provinces without the need to self-isolate provided they:

have not traveled outside of the Atlantic provinces for any reason, including work or personal travel, in the past 14 days (New Brunswickers returning from work in another Canadian province or territory continue to not be required to self-isolate when they return to New Brunswick);

  • have not been advised to self-isolate;
  • are not awaiting results of a COVID-19 test;
  • are not experiencing at least two of the following symptoms:
    • fever above 38°C or signs of fever (such as chills);
    • a new cough or worsening chronic cough;
    • sore throat;
    • runny nose;
    • headache;
    • a new onset of fatigue;
    • a new onset of muscle pain;
    • diarrhea;
    • loss of sense of taste or loss of sense of smell; and
    • in children, purple markings on the fingers or toes.

Atlantic Canadians will be able to travel to and from New Brunswick without the requirement to self-isolate but will be asked to provide proof of their province of residence. Visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival and may then travel within the Maritime provinces.

Each Atlantic province will choose its own public health processes to track and monitor people that enter their province. In addition, each of the provinces in the Atlantic bubble, may have distinct rules for health-care workers crossing interprovincial borders to enable them to manage their staffing requirements and the pressures within their respective health-care systems.

Higgs also announced beginning Friday, June 26, Zone 5 – the Campbellton region – would be moving back into the Yellow phase of recovery to align with the remainder of the province.

In addition, the state of emergency order will be extended another two weeks from Thursday, June 25 to Thursday, July 9 with the following changes:

  • Zone 5 (Campbellton region) will move fully into the Yellow level with the rest of the province.
  • In all zones of the province, all remaining businesses can open with appropriate distancing and sanitizing, and operational plans respecting WorkSafeNB and Public Health guidelines.

Higgs said traffic into the province was up 52 per cent on the daily averages collected since March 25. On Monday, June 22, 3,441 passenger vehicles and 3,794 commercial vehicles into the province. Higgs said while travel numbers increase, staffing levels at the border points are ample to handle the added traffic.

Higgs also said New Brunswick is leading the pack in economic gain after having been closed in the earlier phases of recovery. He said 70 per cent of New Brunswick businesses are now open – more than any other province – and 29 per cent of those are reporting revenues at or above the same time last year, which is again higher than other provinces.

Russell said there were no new cases of COVID-19 in the province today.

Information on public health recovery phases, measures and guidelines is available online.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not provide a federal briefing today. For benefit information, application portals, Canada’s job bank, and up-to-date information on COVID-19 nationally can be found here.