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As travel agency touts plans to extend Atlantic bubble to Cuba, Health Canada says isolation period must be followed

Click to play video 'Travel agency plans to extend Atlantic bubble to Cuba' Travel agency plans to extend Atlantic bubble to Cuba
WATCH: A travel agency based in Halifax is finalizing plans to extending Atlantic Canada’s travel bubble to a resort in Cuba over the winter. As Graeme Benjamin reports, interest from Atlantic Canadians has gone through the roof. – Oct 25, 2020

Health Canada says it has no plans to offer exemptions to its mandatory 14-day isolation period for Canadians returning from international travel.

“All persons entering Canada—no matter their country of origin or mode of entry—are required to quarantine for 14 days,” said Maryse Durette, a spokesperson for Health Canada.

It’ll be a hard pill to swallow for the co-owner of a Halifax travel agency who says she’s received about 4,000 inquiries over 48 hours after announcing her intentions to extend the Atlantic bubble to an all-inclusive resort in Cuba.

In a Facebook post, Absolute Travel co-owner Elayne Pink announced a plan to offer an Air Canada charter direct from Halifax to an exclusive resort in Cayo Coco, Cuba.

The dates for the trip begin on Feb. 12 and will be offered through to March 19.

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“People have been kind of feeling trapped, I think, and that they kind of can’t do anything,” said Pink. “I don’t think the 14-day quarantine is the be-all-end-all for travellers anymore.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia reports no new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The trip will be a one-week stay at Hotel Playa Coco, which Pink says will be exclusively offered to those living within Atlantic Canada. It’s being marketed as the safest way for Atlantic Canadians to be able to travel down south with friends during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“People now are doing the work from home, or whatever their situation may be, to allow (the 14-day quarantine) to not be a big issue,” she said. “They’re scared of what’s going on. They’re more concerned about, they don’t want people from Quebec or Ontario on the trip.”

Pink says visitors will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in Cuba and all resort staff members will be tested before arriving to the resort, where they will also be living.

Proof of residency will be required at the time of booking and travellers will not be allowed to leave the Atlantic bubble 21 days prior to going on the trip.

Off-resort excursions will not be permitted and Pink says the beach is fully private. Nova Scotia’s mask policy will be enforced at the resort, according to Pink.

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Click to play video '‘We’re not there yet’: Atlantic bubble to stay closed as premiers disagree on popping date' ‘We’re not there yet’: Atlantic bubble to stay closed as premiers disagree on popping date
‘We’re not there yet’: Atlantic bubble to stay closed as premiers disagree on popping date – Jul 31, 2020

Although Pink has touted the trip as extending the Atlantic bubble, the province of Nova Scotia referred all questions related to the trip and a possible extension of the Atlantic bubble to the federal government.

Health Canada has said that provinces are able to implement their own isolation requirements but people entering Canada must still follow the federal 14-day isolation period.

Although Health Canada did not directly address questions regarding Pink’s planned trip to Cuba, they did provide a list of those who are exempt from the 14-day isolation period.

None of the exemptions are for personal travel.

Pink says the trip will cost about $1,500 each, but details on pricing are still being worked out. Pink says COVID-19 insurance is included in the cost.

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READ MORE: No plans for border restrictions amid two New Brunswick COVID-19 outbreaks: N.S. premier

Pink says she’s been inundated with inquires since posting about the opportunity. One of the many to show interest were Derrick and Trish MacNeil of Dartmouth, who say they’re avid travellers eager to get rid of the travel bug.

“We’re quite excited with Elayne coming up with this opportunity with the Atlantic bubble, and potentially a good opportunity to get down south and spend a week in the sun,” said Derrick.

He says the opportunity is a reflection on how well Nova Scotians have done with keeping the virus out the province.

“Kudos to all of Atlantic Canadians for managing the bubble extremely well and being able to come up with these potential opportunities for travel,” said Derrick. “Because other than this, you’re not going to get any opportunities for travel whatsoever.”

Pink says their plan is adaptive and their plan is responsive to changes in provincial epidemiology.