HALIFAX -- Atlantic Canada's premiers announced on Tuesday they will be delaying the reopening of the Atlantic bubble due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and the presence of more transmissible variants.

The four premiers issued a news release after holding a teleconference, stating the reopening of the bubble would be delayed from April 19 to May 3 at the earliest.

"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 Council of Atlantic Premiers has agreed to delay the reopening of the Atlantic bubble," wrote the council in a statement on their website.

The premiers said the decision was made based upon expert advice from the region's chief medical officers of health. They added the change in reopening the bubble will help support a continued focus on addressing local outbreaks and the rollout of vaccination programs across the region.

The first iteration of the Atlantic bubble was created on July 3, 2020, allowing travellers to flow between all four Atlantic provinces without quarantining. At that time, there were a combined eight active cases in the four Atlantic provinces.

The bubble was suspended on November 26, 2020, due to a second wave of COVID-19 cases across the country.

The premiers noted they will continue to monitor the relaxation of travel restrictions and say the decision on the Atlantic bubble could change at any time, based on public health advice.

"Premiers remain committed to working together to limit the spread of COVID-19, protect the health and safety of all Atlantic Canadians, and strengthening the region's economy while returning to community activities," wrote the council.

The premiers say they plan to meet the last week of April to review the status of outbreaks and decide if another delay is necessary.

With files from The Canadian Press.