Atlantic bubble 2.0 expected to begin by April 19, premiers say

Nova Scotia·Breaking

The second iteration of the Atlantic bubble will begin on April 19, the Council of Atlantic Premiers announced on Thursday.

A driver shows his identification to a provincial worker at the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton, P.E.I., Friday, July 3, 2020. The re-opening of an Atlantic Canada travel bubble is coming on April 19, officials announced Thursday.(Brian McInnis/The Canadian Press)

The second iteration of the Atlantic bubble will begin on April 19, the Council of Atlantic Premiers announced on Thursday.

"While COVID-19 remains a serious concern, premiers are encouraged by Atlantic Canadians' adherence to public health measures, the containment of regional outbreaks, and the progress in rolling out vaccines," the council said in a release.

"Premiers are grateful to front-line workers for their continued efforts and the ongoing dedication of Atlantic Canadians in helping to contain the spread of the virus."

The opening of the bubble, which allows people in the four Atlantic provinces to travel within the region with no self-isolation requirement, is "conditional upon COVID-19 case numbers remaining low in the region, containment of outbreaks, and ongoing advice from Atlantic Chief Medical Officers of Health," the council said.

N.L. participation conditional

While there were initial discussions of opening a 'Maritime bubble' and excluding Newfoundland and Labrador at first following a large spike in cases last month, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin said Thursday that province will be included in the bubble this year.

"Their cases have come down over time, and now they're down where New Brunswick is," he said.

The Council of Atlantic Premiers said Newfoundland and Labrador's participation in the bubble "is conditional on continued progress in easing its provincial alert-level restrictions."

Last summer, the four provinces allowed free travel across their borders with no need for a 14-day self isolation period. Those restrictions were reinstated after an increase in cases.

Rankin said with the second version of the Atlantic bubble, they hope to achieve "more normalcy, commerce, people being able to visit their friends and family."

"I think for a long time we've been able to keep our borders tight, and that's proven successful and the previous Atlantic bubble was very successful so I'm eager to see that happen."

No news on opening to rest of Canada

As of Thursday, Nova Scotia had 17 active cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, Newfoundland and Labrador had 36 active cases and New Brunswick had 42. P.E.I. had four active cases as of Tuesday.

People from outside Atlantic Canada will still need to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in any of the four provinces.

Rankin also said they are holding off on reopening the Atlantic provinces to the rest of Canada until more people have been vaccinated.

"I don't think we're there yet," he said.

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