Premiers announce Atlantic Bubble scheduled to reopen by April 19
HALIFAX -- Atlantic Canada's four premiers say next month, residents of the region will once again be able to travel between provinces without restrictions.
In a statement on Thursday, the return of the so-called Atlantic Bubble was jointly announced by the premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, which is scheduled to be restored by April 19.
The leaders say the date depends on COVID-19 case numbers in each region, containment of outbreak, and ongoing advice from Atlantic chief medical officers of health.
The reopening of the Atlantic Bubble will allow residents of the Atlantic provinces to travel within the region without the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days.
"While COVID-19 remains a serious concern, Premiers are encouraged by Atlantic Canadians’ adherence to public health measures, the containment of regional outbreaks, and the progress in rolling out vaccines," read the news release on Thursday. "Premiers are grateful to front-line workers for their continued efforts and the ongoing dedication of Atlantic Canadians in helping to contain the spread of the virus."
According to the news release, the participation of Newfoundland and Labrador is conditional based on their continued progress in easing its provincial alert-level restrictions.
"All public health directives in each province must continue to be followed, including wearing a mask in public spaces, not travelling if experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and practicing physical distancing," wrote The Council of Atlantic Premiers in the news release.
The council says visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories are able to travel within the Atlantic provinces following their mandatory 14-day isolation period.
People visiting from outside Atlantic Canada must still adhere to entry requirements in place in each of the four jurisdictions.
"Premiers noted that the decision to ease travel restrictions will continue to be closely monitored and may change at any time, based on public health advice regarding conditions within the region," wrote the Council of Atlantic Premiers."Premiers remain committed to collaborating on limiting the spread of COVID-19, protecting the health and safety of all Atlantic Canadians and working to renew and strengthen the region's economy while returning to community activities."
Atlantic Canada's previous bubble burst in November 2020 when a number of COVID-19 outbreaks led the provinces to restrict entry.
"While we all welcome the return of a travel bubble, it is important to remember that cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across Canada,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “Coupled with the increase in cases of the variants we are seeing, that is cause for concern. If you are travelling, even within the bubble, please ensure you follow all Public Health directives so we can continue to limit the spread of the virus."
With files from The Canadian Press.