With COVID-19-related travel restrictions back in place for almost anyone coming into New Brunswick – including those coming from within the bygone Atlantic Bubble – businesses near the Nova Scotia border are a little anxious.
“I think a lot of them were counting on November and December to save the year,” says John Wishart, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton.
“Tightening the potential market for businesses right now is difficult for them to swallow,” he says, “especially after a difficult year.”
The Chamber doesn’t have numbers on how many people from out of province would make up the holiday shopping rush in a “normal” year, but Wishart says you’d just need to look at the license plates around the mall parking lot to realize the significance.
He calls the Moncton region a magnet for shoppers from P.E.I., northern Nova Scotia and elsewhere in New Brunswick.
“Now, unfortunately, we’re in a phase where that’s not so easy,” says Wishart.
It’s grief being felt throughout the Atlantic region, according to the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce.
“We were very fortunate to have the Atlantic Bubble open during tourist season,” says Brandon Ellis, the Atlantic Chamber’s senior policy manager.
“Hopefully these are just short-term restrictions to get this recent outbreak under control.”
“Hopefully we’ll be able to resume with the Atlantic Bubble again in the near future,” Ellis says.
Wishart hopes it can be reformed early in the New Year – with January and February already serving as the slowest retail months of the year.