New Brunswick to ease travel restrictions Aug. 1 for Quebecers who live by border
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick is opening its bubble by allowing some Quebec residents who live near the border to visit for day trips starting Aug 1.
Residents of the Avignon and Temiscouata regions and Listuguj First Nation will be able to enter New Brunswick without having to self-isolate for 14 days -- as long as they don't stay the night.
Premier Blaine Higgs said Thursday those border residents must pre-register before travelling and anyone who fails to do that will be turned away. New Brunswick is currently part of what's called the Atlantic bubble, which allows Atlantic Canadians to travel within the region without having to quarantine for two weeks.
"We have some really solid safeguards in place," Higgs told reporters. "Not only are these only day passes but you have to register in advance so we know where you are. And there's a questionnaire to be filled out so we know what activities you've been participating in."
For instance, the premier said, Quebecers wishing to enter New Brunswick must attest to not having travelled outside their communities during the previous two weeks. He said the government is relying on the integrity of people to tell the truth.
But People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said Thursday he's against the idea. Quebec residents who live by the New Brunswick border or their contacts, could have travelled to hotspots like Montreal and bring COVID-19 into the province, he said.
New Brunswick has had 170 cases of COVID-19, two of which are active. The province has also reported two deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
Higgs said his province isn't ready to open its borders to the rest of Canada, but said allowing limited travel for certain Quebecers is a small move in that direction.
"We know this is not unique," Higgs explained. "This is something that Labrador and Quebec have been doing for some time now. It is very restricted in the area we're speaking of, so it's not like we're opening to all of Quebec, we're opening to this region only."
Quebec residents along the border have been calling on the New Brunswick government to ease travel restrictions, which have prevented them from seeing relatives and friends. Businesses have also complained about a significant loss of revenue.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2020.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Brown