What you need to know as Atlantic bubble begins Friday
Travellers from within 4 Atlantic provinces won't have to self-isolate but still have rules to follow
The Atlantic bubble starts Friday, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders without having to self-isolate for 14 days, but each province has its own set of rules for visitors.
All will require proof of residency. One has a form that has to be filled out in advance. And one won't be doing any screening for COVID-19.
Here is what you need to know before you go.
In New Brunswick, peace officers will still stop every non-commercial vehicle at the border and ask travellers to identify themselves and provide proof of residence, said Coreen Enos, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety.
Government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's licence, can satisfy both requirements, she said.
Some of the other documents that can establish identification include: a health card, birth certificate, Old Age Security identification card, immigration documents, confirmation of permanent residence, and a citizenship certificate.
Acceptable proof of residency can include: a utility bill, a bank statement or void cheque with address, mortgage documents, a property tax bill, personal income taxes, a residential lease signed by both the tenant and landlord, employment confirmation or pay stub, or social assistance benefit confirmation.
Visitors will be screened for COVID-19 before being admitted to New Brunswick, said Enos. They must answer questions about possible symptoms of the respiratory disease, contact with anyone who may have been ill, and recent travel history.
Officers will also collect travellers' contact information for public health purposes in the event of an outbreak, she said.
How to save time
The health questionnaire is now available online. The new form, launched Thursday, can be printed off and completed in advance of travel, said Enos.
Filling it out ahead of time will help expedite the process at the border, she said.
The government has increased staffing levels at the border crossings in anticipation of the Atlantic bubble, based on the "significant influx of traffic" the province saw when it began allowing property owners and family members to visit a month ago, said Enos.
Staffing varies by location and time of day, and resources are shifted accordingly.
Still, "travellers should be prepared for delays," she advised.
New Brunswick has gone nine days with no new confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are still three active cases in the province, including two people in intensive care in hospital.
A total of 165 people have tested positive since the pandemic began. Two people have died.
"We need all New Brunswickers and visitors to our province to continue to actively follow public health safety measures," Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.
No self-declaration in Nova Scotia
To enter Nova Scotia, visitors from the other Atlantic provinces will have to show proof of residency to provincial officials when entering at highway borders, airports or ferries.
Every adult will need to show either a driver's licence, government identification card, health card, or a utility bill or bank statement with a valid Atlantic Canadian address.
No self-declaration form will be required.
"We are working within our existing resources to have officials at the busiest entry points," said Adèle Poirier, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Wellness. "We don't know about volumes of visitors for certain but travellers should expect delays."
The province has a "chit system" in place so truckers and other workers who cross the land border regularly will continue to pass through without stopping for questions, she added.
"Businesses and communities are looking forward to welcoming Atlantic Canadian visitors," Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said in a statement Thursday.
"We've worked hard to get to the point where we can welcome our neighbours safely and it's important for everyone to respect the public health guidelines."
Another new case of COVID-19 has been identified in Nova Scotia on Thursday — the third case in three days, bringing the total number of active cases to three.
The latest case is a temporary foreign worker from Mexico who was self-isolating when they developed symptoms. The other two cases are Nova Scotians who returned home after visiting the United States.
Two of the 1,064 people who tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic are still in hospital, but their cases are considered resolved.
Nova Scotia has had 63 COVID-19-related deaths.
"I know many people are still nervous about this virus. Our visitors may be, too," Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, said in a statement.
"We can make their visits a safe experience for everyone by being patient and kind, by practising good hand hygiene, distancing and by wearing a mask when you can't stay six feet apart."
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the new cases highlight the importance of public health directives.
He also said he knows people are worried as the province prepares to welcome Atlantic neighbours, but told reporters Thursday the numbers in the region are still very low.
"Our tourism sector needs this and we need to try to make it work," he said.
Form required in advance for P.E.I.
Prince Edward Island has an online self-declaration form visitors from the other three Atlantic provinces must fill out in advance in order to enter from the Northumberland Strait either via the Confederation Bridge or the Caribou-Wood Islands ferry.
The form includes spaces where Atlantic bubble visitors must provide:
- Their address.
- Arrival and departure date and contact information.
- The names of all travellers in the vehicle.
- A health declaration about any possible COVID-19 risk.
Only one form is required per vehicle.
People are asked to submit the form at least a day ahead of their scheduled arrival date. A submission identification number will be generated when the form is submitted.
They should print a copy of their completed form and bring it with them.
Prince Edward Island Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said based on the province's estimates and the flow of traffic, she expects they will be able to process enough travellers per hour that there shouldn't be any back up.
The province is encouraging travellers to come through during off-peak hours to avoid backups and maintain safety.
The Island has had 27 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the most recent on April 28. All have recovered.
No health screening in N.L.
To enter Newfoundland and Labrador, two pieces of identification will be required to verify that the traveller is a resident of one of the Atlantic provinces, said Tina Newhook, director of communications for Health and Community Services. One piece of identification must include an address.
In addition, visitors must also complete the contact information section on the province's self-declaration forms.
"We are not conducting health screening or a questionnaire upon entry," Newhook said in an emailed statement.
"We are advising those who enter to contact 811 (Newfoundland and Labrador's HealthLine) should they become symptomatic."
Thursday marked 35 days without a new case of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 15 days since the last active case recovered. The total number of cases stands at 261.
With some exceptions, people from outside the Atlantic provinces cannot come in, and most of those who do get in must self-isolate for 14 days.
If they have self-isolated in one Atlantic province, they may enter another one without self-isolating again.