Nfld. & Labrador

Plans are 'definitely scattered' for students to travel home to N.L. for the holidays

As Newfoundland and Labrador bursts its Atlantic bubble participation, a post-secondary student in Nova Scotia says her plans for travelling home to be with family at Christmas are up in the air.

Sophie Pickard has a ticket to fly home from Nova Scotia on Dec. 18 but may have to cancel

With Newfoundland and Labrador pulling out of the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks, travel within the Atlantic Canada region is once again restricted, leaving some post-secondary students stuck to wait and see what happens. (Gary Locke/CBC)

As Newfoundland and Labrador bursts its Atlantic bubble participation, a post-secondary student in Nova Scotia says her plans for travelling home to be with family at Christmas are up in the air.

Sophie Pickard is in her fourth year of kinesiology at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., but is originally from St. John's, where her family still lives.

This week, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador both pulled out of the Atlantic bubble agreement for at least two weeks, stricter restrictions were put into place in Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick officials urged young people to do what they can to reverse the trend of COVID-19 cases in that province.

N.L.'s reassessment of the Atlantic bubble will happen in two weeks; if the province decides to stay out of the Atlantic bubble, Pickard will have to get on a plane the next day in order to get home and self-isolate for two weeks so she can be in the same room as her family on Christmas Day.

Pickard said her plans are "definitely scattered" as she tries to figure out her holiday plans in light of the province's new rules.

They'd love to see me, but they understand if they can't.- Sophie Pickard

"Everything I guess is a little up in the air now and it's just kind of waiting those two weeks, seeing what happens."

Pickard was set to fly home on Dec. 18, along with her roommate, who was coming to Newfoundland with her for Christmas rather than flying home to Ontario. But this week's announcement means they might have to change their plans.

"She had her flight booked to come home to Newfoundland with me, so now we're kind of I guess doubly in the situation where she's trying to decide," Pickard said.

With her last in-person class scheduled for Dec. 11, Pickard said it would be difficult to get home in time to complete the necessary isolation to be with family on Christmas.

"If Newfoundland … in two weeks' time they say they're gonna keep the two-week quarantine in place, I will probably just stay in Nova Scotia for Christmas," said Pickard.

"I've got myself, my roommate who was gonna come with me, and then one of my other friends who's from Newfoundland as well who's struggling with the decision because she doesn't know if she's gonna have the actual time off work to be able to accommodate a two-week quarantine."

While Pickard watched the Nova Scotia live update, her family in St. John's watched N.L.'s news — and they're all coping and considering options as best they can, she said.

"I was talking to my dad, he called me kind of right after Newfoundland put out their announcement. He did say, 'You know that we want you home, your dad misses you, but do what works for you, we'll understand if you have to cancel your flight, stay in Nova Scotia,'" Pickard said.

"So there's definitely a little bit of — they'd love to see me, but they understand if they can't."

The holiday season will look different for a lot of people this year, as travel restrictions, self-isolating and physical distancing rules continue. (Daniel Bouchard/Radio-Canada)

Pickard said it will be hard to be away from family for Christmas, if it comes to that, but she understands things are challenging right now.

"I would definitely not be surprised if Newfoundland keeps the two-week quarantine. It's a precautionary measure and it kind of makes sense, so I'm kind of preparing for that," she said.

In the meantime, what she'll do after graduation in the spring remains to be seen; Pickard said a lot can change in a global pandemic in that time.

"[It's] definitely a whirlwind. It's hard to keep thinking of, what's it gonna look like in a year's time, am I gonna be in more school?" she said.

"I'm looking at a few grad school options and then I'm considering if I decide to take the year off, I just maybe try and get some work experience. That being said, I don't know — because I'm looking to go into physio — how open clinics are, if they're willing to take extra people in to do shadowing, to volunteer, things like that, so it's hard to keep that as an option if I don't know if it is an option."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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