Families looking to enter Nova Scotia ask when they can fill out entry form
Nova Scotia is reopening to visitors from outside Atlantic Canada on June 30
More borders around the Atlantic region are starting to reopen this week and travel is beginning to flow, but questions remain for travellers who want to enter Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada.
Greg MacIsaac lives in Ottawa but his hometown is Antigonish, N.S.
"I've lived [in Ottawa] for 30 years and I still miss it," he said.
His 84-year-old mother still lives in Antigonish, and MacIsaac's family of four was planning to visit her arriving on June 30.
In a news release last week, the province said people who enter from outside Atlantic Canada can enter that day, subject to certain self-isolation requirements based on vaccination status. They must complete the Nova Scotia safe check-in form, upload an electronic proof of vaccination and show proof if asked by border officials.
MacIsaac's family plans to leave Ottawa on Tuesday morning. As of Monday afternoon, the form on Nova Scotia's website did not have an option for people outside the Atlantic bubble.
"This worried me because it also said that you were supposed to apply about a week in advance to make sure you got authorization by the time you travel," MacIsaac said. "And I wanted to have all of our ducks in a row."
Thousands enter P.E.I. on first weekend
Prince Edward Island eased restrictions Sunday to Atlantic Canadians with pre-approved travel plans, using a form called the "PEI Pass."
The province announced travellers would have to fill out the pass application only once, and began accepting applications on June 17.
Approximately 50,000 people applied for a pass and about 26,000 of them were approved as of Sunday.
P.E.I. is also prioritizing approvals based on people's travel date, said Ryan Neale, the manager of Environmental Health who is helping to oversee P.E.I.'s border crossings.
"As of right now, passes for people who are travelling up until the 29th of June have been approved," Neale said Sunday.
Form available June 30
Back in Ottawa, MacIsaac emailed Nova Scotia officials to ask when he could fill out the online form. He said they replied it would be active on June 30, but he's worried about what would happen if the approval didn't happen immediately upon submitting the form.
"Filling the form out on the day that we were planning to arrive at the border didn't seem to work, especially since it's a two-day drive from Ottawa," MacIsaac said.
MacIsaac said he considered delaying his family's travel plans, and though it is possible it would be quite difficult to rebook a suitable cottage in the Antigonish area.
In the end, his family will stick to the plan to depart on Tuesday morning and hope they are not turned away.
"I don't mind following the rules to get in the province, but I just want to know what they are," he said.
In an email to CBC, a provincial spokesperson said Nova Scotia recommends completing the form in advance but that's not a requirement. It says people are increasingly receiving automatic approvals, as long as they can show the required vaccination paperwork and any other necessary documents to staff at the border.
It also says the typical shift of three staff people at the land border will be doubled to six for each shift on June 30 and July 1. The Digby ferry crossing will be staffed with four people, and the airport will have three to four staff.
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