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New COVID-19 cases in and around N.B.-Quebec bubble concerns local mayor

Click to play video 'Campbellton mayor says another border closure may come as Quebec cases spike' Campbellton mayor says another border closure may come as Quebec cases spike
WATCH: New COVID-19 cases are causing some concerns about New Brunswick’s travel bubble with the two neighbouring Quebec regions.

New COVID-19 cases in Quebec are causing some concerns about New Brunswick’s travel bubble with two neighbouring Quebec jurisdictions.

New Brunswick’s active case count was only three as of Wednesday, but cases are continuing to rise in Quebec — and they’re too close to home, says Campbellton Mayor Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin.

“When [cases] were in Montreal, they were 12 hours away from us,” she tells Global News. “[Now] we’re talking two hours away, max… It’s getting a little too close for comfort.”
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Read more: New Brunswick premier hopes ‘mini bubble’ with Quebec open by August 1

Avignon Municipal Regional County, Listuguj First Nation and the Témiscouata Municipal Regional County (MRC) in Quebec were included in a ‘twinning’ or ‘bubble’ with New Brunswick, meaning people could visit without self-isolating starting Aug. 1.

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But 16 recent active cases in the Témiscouata MRC, closer to the Edmundston border, and other cases in the Matapédia MRC have gotten the attention of New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.

“We are concerned with what’s happening at the border, the northern border with Quebec, with some changes there and the COVID rates, and some changes they may make into their current levels of the pandemic,” Higgs told Global News Anchor Sarah Ritchie in a post-election interview Tuesday. “So we’re watching that very closely.”

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, wasn’t made available for an interview Wednesday. In a brief statement from public health, spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane says there are no current plans to make changes to border protocols, but that officials are monitoring the COVID-19 situation across Canada daily.

Read more: Economy, relationship strained between Campbellton, N.B. region, neighbouring Quebec communities

Anglehart-Paulin says people are getting “complacent” but that they can’t let their guard down because COVID-19 is “a real, real, real threat to our community.”

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“I do have residents that are very fearful of this and some are saying ‘close it down, we don’t want,'” she says. “But then we have our friends and families that live on the other side [of the border] that we can’t just say that.”

Anglehart-Paulin says while she’s concerned about the virus, there’s also an immense concern about the implications of reimplementing restrictions.

“It was a difficult, difficult five months,” she says. “It would be devastating to the economy, but it would also be devastating to us mentally.”

She said businesses will suffer if they are cut off from Quebec again.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: CDC director encourages flu vaccine, continued mask wearing as cold weather approaches' Coronavirus: CDC director encourages flu vaccine, continued mask wearing as cold weather approaches
Coronavirus: CDC director encourages flu vaccine, continued mask wearing as cold weather approaches