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COVID-19: Nova Scotia mayor calls on Atlantic provinces to reopen together

Click to play video: 'Amherst, N.S. mayor calls on Atlantic provinces to reopen together' Amherst, N.S. mayor calls on Atlantic provinces to reopen together
All four Atlantic provinces have announced plans to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions. But several target dates don’t match up and the mayor of Amherst, N.S. says that shouldn’t be the case. Callum Smith reports. – Jun 7, 2021

As provinces and territories reopen, the mayor of Amherst, N.S., says Atlantic Canadian provinces should be easing restrictions simultaneously.

“I would’ve liked to have seen that the four provinces act as a unified body, making one decision, and doing it all the same,” David Kogon says.

Kogon, who works as an OBGYN at the Moncton Hospital, supports vaccines being the driving factor in reopening, but says it would be “for the benefit and betterment of all four provinces” to do so in unison.

Read more: New Brunswick extends travel rebate program to all of Atlantic Canada this summer

Each province has set some degree of target dates for reopening phases that are dependent on vaccination levels, low case counts or hospitalizations, and other requirements.

As proven in New Brunswick Monday, not all targets may be attainable.

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Under ‘Phase 1 of its reopening plan, the province said if 75 per cent of the eligible population received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, people from PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador and two border communities in Quebec could enter the province without having to isolate. As of Monday, the target date, only 70% of the eligible population had received at least one vaccine dose.

Canadian, Atlantic Canadian travel

New Brunswick

As of now, New Brunswick will reopen to Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada on July 2 as part of ‘Phase 2’ if the following criteria are met.

  • 75 per cent of New Brunswickers 12 and older have received their first dose of a vaccine
  • 20 per cent of New Brunswickers 65 and older have received their second dose
  • hospitalizations remain low
  • all health zones remain at the Yellow alert level

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s ‘expected date’ for ‘Phase 3’ of its reopening plan — which allows travellers from across Canada to enter, pending vaccination status — is June 30. However, people coming from outside Atlantic Canada would need to isolate for 14 days, while requirements for people within the region are yet to be determined, according to the province’s website.

“Self-isolation requirements may be determined by vaccine status, border testing strategy and epidemiology of other provinces,” the website reads. “More details to come.”

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It’s not clear when Canadians could enter Nova Scotia without isolating.

But ‘Phase 3’ also depends on several factors.

  • Number of patients in hospital are low
  • Patients in hospital continue to decrease
  • 65% of population has received 1 vaccine dose

PEI

PEI hopes to reach ‘Step 2’ of its reopening plan June 27. That would allow Atlantic Canadians to travel onto the Island, pending a self-declaration form and vaccination status.

Requirements to reach that step are listed below:

  • The level of disease is low and transmission is controlled within PEI, Atlantic provinces, and Canada.
  • First of two doses of vaccine received by 80% of PEI residents age 12 and older
  • Second of two doses of vaccine received by 80% of all long-term care and community care residents, health care workers in direct patient contact, Indigenous communities, and PEI residents age 80 and older

Under ‘Step 4’ of the province’s roadmap, which is estimated to be reached August 8, people from across Canada could enter the province as long as they’re fully vaccinated. Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Canadians would be subject to a ‘shortened isolation’ pending certain conditions.

  • The level of disease is low and transmission is controlled within PEI, Atlantic provinces, and Canada.
  • Second of two doses of vaccine received by 50% of PEI residents age 12 years and older

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is skipping a reopening phase with neighbouring Atlantic provinces. Instead, the province hopes to fully open to all fully vaccinated Canadians by July 1, meaning there would be no self-isolation requirements.

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  • Wear a non-medical
    mask in indoor public
    spaces.
  • Physical distancing.
  • If sick, stay home,
    get tested.
  • Get both doses of
    COVID-19 vaccine

There is more information for people who have not been fully vaccinated by that date below:

  • Partially vaccinated Canadians must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result administered within three days of their departure date, or self-isolate following arrival until receipt of a negative test result.
  • Unvaccinated Canadians must self-isolate for 14 days following arrival.
  • Mixed groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated adult travellers follow the rules for unvaccinated travellers.

Bubble talks and reaction

When asked for a response to people who are frustrated or confused with the four Atlantic provinces not being entirely in sync with reopening plans, Premier Blaine Higgs says “I think you’ll see the bubble reunite here over the coming weeks.”

Read more: Families separated, weddings postponed: Atlantic residents hoping for travel bubble’s return

“I think we’re all trending in the same direction and in the case of timing, we all want a certain level of vaccination levels to get there,” he says.

Aside from Amherst’s mayor, several people have voiced concern about the so-far staggered plans at the Nova Scotia border Monday.

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Chase Clayton, a New Brunswick high school student living in neighbouring Nova Scotia, says “there’s so much confusion” as it pertains to reopening plans.

“I think the Atlantic region should work together for a plan because we depend on each other,” he says.

“Honestly, I’m really confused right now,” says John Chardine, a New Brunswick resident who is trying to enter Nova Scotia for a medical appointment.

But there’s also some forgiveness.

After all, there’s no such thing as a pandemic playbook.

“It may be would be nice if we had some kind of a little coalition between all the four provinces and everyone followed kind of a similar strategy, but it is what it is and this is the first time for all of us in the world right now so hopefully we’ll get through it and this summer, we’ll be opening up,” says Leo Porelle, a New Brunswick resident working in Nova Scotia.

At the New Brunswick border entry in Aulac, Marc Cole was returning from dropping off his daughter at the IWK. He is pleased with how the provinces are reopening.

“The provinces are all going through their own different COVID restrictions and I think they’re all trying to protect us, so I’m happy with all of it,” Cole says.

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Click to play video: 'New Brunswick aims to open up to Atlantic Canada – minus N.S. – next month' New Brunswick aims to open up to Atlantic Canada – minus N.S. – next month
New Brunswick aims to open up to Atlantic Canada – minus N.S. – next month – May 27, 2021

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