In a move that was anticipated amid growing COVID-19 cases in the Atlantic region, the so-called Atlantic bubble restart date has been pushed back by at least two weeks.
The bubble, which would have allowed people to travel among the Atlantic provinces without self-isolating for 14 days, was slated to begin April 19.
The Council of Atlantic Premiers announced Tuesday evening they are delaying the reopening until at least May 3 “given the recent surge in cases of COVID-19 in parts of Atlantic Canada and the emergence of more transmissible forms of the virus.”
The premiers plan to meet during the last week of April to see if there are any more outbreaks and will decide at that point if they need to delay even further, to May 10.
“The decision is based upon expert advice from the region’s Chief Medical Officers of Health,” a news release from the council states.
Earlier on Tuesday, Nova Scotia Premier Premier Iain Rankin hinted at what was to come when he announced his province was reimposing restrictions for travellers from New Brunswick. Beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, all visitors to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The bubble was first created in July 2020 and its success caught international attention.
However, the self-isolation requirement was brought back and the bubble “burst” in November 2020 as COVID-19 cases grew.
On March 18, the premiers announced they planned to reinstate the bubble on April 19 so long as there were low COVID-19 case numbers in the region.
Since then, an outbreak — driven by the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the U.K. — has taken hold of the city of Edmundston in New Brunswick.
Edmundston and the Upper Madawaska areas are now in a full lockdown, while other communities nearby are in the red phase of restrictions.