Most of Atlantic Canada to reopen to regional travel on June 23
HALIFAX -- Three of the four Atlantic provinces will begin allowing travellers from within the region as of June 23.
On Tuesday, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador all announced some form of reopening for Atlantic Canadian travel as of June 23.
Meanwhile, New Brunswick announced a partial reopening to Atlantic Canada as of Wednesday, but did not put a specific date on a complete Atlantic reopening.
Many, but not all Atlantic Canadians will be able to enter New Brunswick effective midnight Tuesday.
As of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, residents Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Cumberland County, Nova Scotia will be permitted to travel to New Brunswick without self-isolating.
At this time, the rest of Nova Scotia will not be included in New Brunswick’s reopening, but Premier Blaine Higgs is optimistic that will change “later this week”.
“Our province will soon be open all of Atlantic Canada, including Nova Scotia, once we enter Phase 2 on our Path to Green. With your continued help and enthusiasm for the second vaccination, that will happen later this week,” said Higgs on Tuesday.
“In fact, because of the progress we have made, we are no longer attaching a specific goal or timeline date to this, because we are so confident we’ll be there so soon.”
Higgs says once 20 per cent of people 65 and older have received their second dose of vaccine, and as long as hospitalizations are low and all health zones remain in the Yellow level, New Brunswick will move to phase two on their Path to Green.
“As of today, 18 per cent of New Brunswickers 65 and over have been fully vaccinated, and thousands more are booked for appointments,” said Higgs during Tuesday’s news update.
The province originally planned to reopen to travellers from P.E.I., N.L., and parts of Quebec on June 7, but that was delayed after the province’s vaccination rate slowed as they inched toward the mark of 75 per cent of eligible residents having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
In a news release on Tuesday, N.S. Premier Iain Rankin says effective June 23, the province’s borders will be opened to the rest of Atlantic Canada, thanks to low case numbers and hospitalizations, along with an increase in vaccinations.
"Low case numbers across the Atlantic provinces are a signal that reopening to our neighbours is the right step," said Rankin.
Rankin said the decision to open the borders was made in consultation with Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, and his public health team, who are constantly reviewing and evaluating the epidemiology.
"The epidemiology across the region is showing similar numbers, which allows us to ease the border restrictions," said Dr. Strang. "We will be watching the situation closely; however, as we have done before, we will move quickly if we see case numbers on the rise."
Rankin added that discussions with the three other Atlantic premiers are ongoing, and the province continues to work on coordinating timing to open to the rest of Canada.
Currently, Nova Scotia is on track to open to the rest of Canada by July 14.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
During Tuesday's news update, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King announced a ‘soft-launch’ to welcome Atlantic Canadians back to the province on June 23, four days before the originally announced date of June 27.
Any residents of Atlantic Canada who apply and are approved under P.E.I.'s current travel streams will be admitted between June 23 to 27, without self-isolation, as long as they have received at least one dose of vaccine.
This will include permanent residents of the Magdalen Islands, where King says over 80 per cent of residents have been vaccinated with one dose, and over 30 per cent fully vaccinated.
The province's new 'P.E.I. pass program' will open for applications on June 17, and allow vaccinated Island residents and Atlantic Canadians to apply to travel to P.E.I. without self-isolating.
The province then plans to reopen to the rest of the country on July 27, through the P.E.I. pass process.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Also Tuesday, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey announced that residents of Atlantic Canada will be welcome to enter the province as of 12:01 a.m. on June 23, without required testing and self-isolation.
Visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories must follow the entry requirements outlined in Newfoundland and Labrador’s ‘Together Again’ re-opening plan.
“This is an exciting moment for Newfoundland and Labrador and our neighbours in Atlantic Canada,” said Furey in a press release. “We have been hoping to get to this day for quite some time, and I thank all residents for their continued patience as the COVID-19 pandemic has required us to react swiftly and definitively. I join my fellow premiers in looking forward to welcoming travel in our beautiful region.”