Nova Scotia's new border restrictions met with mixed feelings
"People here are reaching their breaking point,' says Amherst Mayor David Kogon
Nova Scotia's tightening of border restrictions on Thursday to allow only essential trips and returning permanent residents of the province to enter is being met with mixed reactions.
The new restrictions apply to everyone crossing into Nova Scotia from all other places except Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.
People attempting to cross the border — including air travel — will be required to fill in a digital check-in form and receive approval. The measures are designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Twenty-five new cases were reported in Nova Scotia on Wednesday.
"We need to stop the flow of people coming into the province for non-essential reasons, including moving here," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said Tuesday. "Now is not the time."
Amherst, N.S., Mayor Dave Kogon works as a doctor at the Moncton Hospital and lives in Nova Scotia.
"I just want the provincial government to know people here are reaching their breaking point and they're not going to be able to cope with with the limitations and restrictions for a whole lot longer," he warned.
Kogon said many people who have a residence in one province and a summer cottage in the other will be looking to return to their vacation homes as the weather improves.
"People complain they pay taxes in both provinces but can't access their own properties," Kogon said.
CBC News visited the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border on Wednesday and found that while some people were resigned to the changes, others wanted an immediate reopening of the Atlantic bubble.
Shannon Reid from Bedford, N.S., is a training instructor for Air Canada and has to drive across the border to conduct training exercises.
Since her work only covers the Atlantic provinces, she doesn't expect too many problems.
"I expect that I'll have to prove my identity and where I'm going and just declare my time and travel for each province," she said. "And that's been pretty routine since COVID started."
John Magalong was driving into Nova Scotia to take an engineering exam.
He was concerned the new restrictions would affect his ability to take his exam, so he emailed the province for clarification. He was told he had a valid reason to cross the border.
"They let me in and they said I just need to follow the protocols that they've given me and I'm all good," Magalong said.
Natalie and Scott Dixon are from Amherst, but have a farm in New Brunswick. They said they want the Atlantic bubble to return because the Atlantic provinces "need each other to thrive."
Scott Dixon said the current restrictions make them feel like they are doing something illegal by simply crossing the border.
"You just feel like you're a criminal when you're driving out of province," he said. "If I'm over here with the New Brunswick plate, I feel as if I'm going to get caught."
He said he believes the tightened restrictions are going to lead people to smuggle family members across the border.
Lloyd Shipley works for a car dealer and delivers cars to New Brunswick. He said he follows the rules and doesn't stop anywhere during his trips.
He said he's in favour of restrictions because "we got to get rid of [COVID-19]."
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With files from Preston Mulligan