Reopening the Atlantic travel bubble next Monday is “precarious,” Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said Tuesday.
“All signs are pointing to the fact that we will need to delay,” King told reporters in Charlottetown. “I know this isn’t the news that everyone wants to hear today.”
King said the four Atlantic premiers are meeting later in the day to discuss the travel bubble, adding that he expects they’ll make an official announcement later Tuesday.
The so-called Atlantic bubble was introduced last summer as a way for the region’s residents to travel freely between the four provinces without having to isolate for 14 days. The premiers have said they were aiming to reopen the bubble on April 19.
But with COVID-19 cases spiking in the rest of Canada, King said the outlook is a lot different now than it was four weeks ago.
“We have been spared, so far, from what is a third wave of this pandemic,” he said. “But there is regional evidence in Atlantic Canada that is becoming more and more concerning with each and every day.”
The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, reported no new cases Tuesday.
In Halifax, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin also delivered news Tuesday that didn’t bode well for the bubble. Reversing a decision he made March 19, Rankin said all visitors to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will now have to self-isolate for 14 days.
“We are seeing the increased cases in New Brunswick and we are also seeing the presence of variants in the Saint John area,” Rankin said in a news release.
Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 45 active cases across the province.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs told The Canadian Press on Tuesday he agrees the April 19 goal of opening the Atlantic bubble is “in jeopardy.”
Health officials are aiming to offer all adult residents at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, but Higgs said the reopening of the travel bubble likely won’t have to wait that long.
“The Atlantic bubble was very successful,” Higgs told reporters. “And if we get our numbers back under control here, I wouldn’t want to wait until the end of June.”
New Brunswick reported four new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday: one in the Saint John region and three in the Edmundston area, which is under lockdown.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Andrew Furey said he, too, was closely monitoring the situation in New Brunswick.
“Our province continues to weigh all options when it comes to lifting travel restrictions with the other Atlantic provinces,” he said in an emailed statement on Tuesday, adding that expects to have more information after the premiers meet.
Newfoundland and Labrador health authorities reported one new COVID-19 infection Tuesday, bringing the province’s active case count to 11.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021.
The Canadian Press