New Brunswick businesses get ready for Atlantic bubble customers
Travel within the 4 provinces will be allowed starting Friday
After nearly four months of COVID-19 restrictions, the four Atlantic provinces are about to reopen their borders to one another to stimulate the regional economy.
Tourism operators in New Brunswick are preparing for out-of-province guests beginning Friday.
Gisele Landry owns the Bistro Le Chat Bleu in Baie Verte, N.B. The restaurant is nestled about 20 minutes away from the Nova Scotia border on the route to the Confederation Bridge and P.E.I.
She said her customers from Nova Scotia, who represent half of her clientele, began to call as soon as the Atlantic bubble was announced.
"They were people who we're familiar with, and who we have been missing," said Landry, who expects business to pick up even further after the reopening.
Landry recognizes the logistical issues ahead.
Physical distancing restrictions are still in effect. Landry's restaurant can't operate at full capacity and maintain adequate spacing.
"I'm not going to be able to accommodate everybody," Landry said. "I'm hoping that people will be patient."
She said she hopes that people will consider going to the restaurant at different times throughout the week, taking pressure off the most popular times, so she can accommodate as many customers as possible.
She said business has been up and down so far this season in advance of the bubble, but she said she's had some new customers in the last few weeks.
The province promoted stay-at-home vacations at an earlier stage of the pandemic, long before opening borders with neighbouring provinces was a sure bet.
John McNair, owner of Outdoor Elements, an outdoor adventure outfitting company, has also seen some new business.
"Just in our opening weekend we saw people that had never been to [Fundy National Park] before, and they're coming to try kayaking, canoeing in Fundy at Bennett Lake," McNair said. "They were kinda thankful for the opportunity to explore their own province."
McNair said he came into this season expecting things to be slower than usual. He wondered how the park would look without licence plates from all over the world this year.
He said there's been an uptick in traffic on their website from the other provinces since the Atlantic bubble was announced. That has led to more bookings.
"There's always been a large population from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island coming to explore the Fundy region and the rest of New Brunswick," he said. "I think it's definitely going to change the traffic coming to New Brunswick."
McNair said he expects to be busier once the bubble officially opens next week, but doesn't think it will be the type of traffic the area's used to seeing each summer.
"I would doubt that anyone's preparing for [maximum] capacity season, even with the Atlantic bubble, but I would guarantee that everyone's much happier to see the Atlantic bubble for tourism coming into New Brunswick."