Nova Scotia

Chester-area residents welcome tougher COVID-19 monitoring on U.S. visitors

People in the Chester, N.S., area have been on high alert over concerns that the community's popularity among American visitors could lead to the spread of COVID-19. Some say there have been incidents where visitors didn't properly self-isolate.

Residents say there have been incidents where visitors didn't properly self-isolate

Chester, N.S., is a popular spot for sailors from around the world. (CBC)

Residents of the Chester, N.S., area are welcoming a statement from the premier about stepped-up monitoring for American visitors and Canadians from outside the Atlantic bubble. Some in the community allege there have been incidents of some people not self-isolating properly.

At a press briefing on Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil said the province will be doing more to check in on visitors to make sure they're self-isolating.

"There are lots of stories, circulating conversations on social media about Americans and others coming into our province and not self-isolating," McNeil. "If this is true, it's not acceptable. If you commit to self-isolating for 14 days, we expect you to keep your word."

McNeil said the province would take identification, phone numbers and addresses of visitors from outside the Atlantic bubble. He said officials would be "ramping up" calls and doing check-ins to "make sure you are where you said you would be and that you are indeed self-isolating."

"We want to be open and welcoming, but we are not going to let our guard down," McNeil said.

Chester has long been a popular destination for boaters and, prior to the pandemic, flags from all over the world could usually be spotted in the water.

Premier Stephen McNeil said the province would be 'ramping up' its calls on check-ins to make sure visitors from outside Atlantic Canada are self-isolating upon arrival. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

But the Canada Border Services Agency said boaters should not be crossing the border for fun, even if they own property in Canada.

Despite the opening of the Atlantic bubble, the Canadian border is still closed for any non-essential purpose.

Gold River Marina owner Leigh Robertson said he's having to discourage international boaters who phone ahead, wanting to berth at his marina.

"Now that we're very much into the boating season, probably two or three times a week," Robertson said.

Robertson said because people in the community have done the hard work to keep the pandemic at bay in the area, they want to keep it that way.

"We now feel very possessive of what we've achieved and we don't want that to be impacted," Robertson said. "Almost 20 per cent of our business is made up of people from Europe, the U.S., Quebec and Ontario and of course all of those areas hold potential dangers if those protocols aren't followed."

Leigh Robertson is the owner of Gold River Marina. (CBC)

He said most people from those areas have been understanding about the rules and there have only been a handful of cases where visitors showed up at his business before their quarantine period was over.

One big frustration is there's no documentation available that proves someone has self-quarantined for 14 days, Robertson said.

"There doesn't seem to be a mechanism that can help business owners and the general public to verify some public protocol has taken place and obviously that missing link is a stamp from a federal agency that certifies when and where they entered Canada," he said.

People in the Chester, N.S., area have been on high alert over concerns that the community's popularity among American visitors could lead to the spread of COVID-19. Some say there have been incidents where visitors didn't properly self-isolate. 3:14

With files from Shaina Luck

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