Atlantic pandemic bubble travelers faced long lines on day 1
Atlantic Canadians are now free to travel between the four eastern provinces of Canada without isolating themselves to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, but that doesn’t mean the process is easy.
The so-called Atlantic bubble opened one minute after midnight AT as part of the relaxation of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, travelers still had to wait to pass the checkpoints.
Prince Edward Island public safety officials reported that 300 to 400 vehicles had crossed Prince Edward Island via the Confederation Bridge within 90 minutes of the opening of the bubble. Cars then continued to cross the bridge in waves.
As of 5:30 p.m., officials said they had received more than 5,200 statements from people wishing to come to the island, and the number continues to rise.
Just after sunrise, long lines of vehicles were visible at the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border, and traffic slowed at the New Brunswick Confederation Bridge exit ramp.
At 6:30 p.m., there was no queue to enter Prince Edward Island, as seen from the entry checkpoint in Borden-Carleton, PEI. -E.
Each province has its own specific rules.
BREAKING: Significant delays at the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border as COVID-19 self-isolation requirements lifted today, allowing Atlantic Canadians to travel freely in the region . pic.twitter.com/ALiw9oUERs
New Brunswick allows commercial traffic to flow freely. Non-commercial travelers are encouraged to show proof of residence, complete a form and answer screening questions. The contact details of travelers are also collected.
People arriving in PEI are asked to: print and complete a form with residence and health questions filled out in advance. New Brunswick officials report that the process takes a few minutes for each vehicle.
No form is required for Nova Scotia, but travelers must show proof of residency in Atlantic Canada. Business travelers can request a pass to go through screening points.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, two pieces of ID are required to show proof of residency in Atlantic Canada, and travelers must provide their contact details. No health screening questions are asked.
Without a land connection to the rest of Atlantic Canada, things are quieter at the Newfoundland and Labrador border points. As the bubble opens, however, a petition has started circulating against its expansion.
Plenty of room on the ferry
However, there were no long waits at the ferry between Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island, and Caribou, Nova Scotia on Friday. Some passengers told CBC News they chose the ferry to beat the traffic on the day the bridge opened.
Northumberland Ferries officials said they also have plenty of room for crossings in the days ahead.
Passengers are required to wear masks and are allowed to remain in their vehicles during the crossing.
“I don’t want to take any chances, in case there are any lingering germs,” said Joanne Adams, who said she would stay in her car during the crossing. She was going to visit her nephew in Nova Scotia.
Lisa Martell of Halifax had just gotten off the ferry and was happy to be coming “home” with her family to Georgetown, but said the crossing was unusual.
“It was just a little different, because nobody is talking, for example. Nobody is sociable because they are just careful,” she said.
Desire to travel
Rose Cooper from Wheatley River, PEI, was up early Friday and heading to Miramichi, NB
“We’re coming home to visit our family. We haven’t seen them for a long time,” Cooper said.
“I’m especially excited to see my mom. She’s 87. It’s going to be good to reconnect.”
New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart said the long lines came as no surprise in the early hours of the bubble as people can’t wait to get moving.
“They wanted to come in and start their summer,” Urquhart said.
There are currently five active cases of COVID-19 in Atlantic Canada, a region of 2.2 million people.