Nova Scotia

N.L. restrictions disrupt holiday plans for travellers from N.S.

New travel restrictions imposed by Newfoundland and Labrador are putting a damper on the holiday plans of some people from Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia dad ‘devastated’ he will not get to see three of his children this Christmas

Jay Thomas with his daughters Gabrielle, left, and Caroline, right, and son Nicholas. (Submitted)

After being unable to spend Christmas with three of his children last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jay Thomas was excited to spend the holidays with them this year.

The Dartmouth, N.S., man was looking forward to flying to St. John's on Christmas Day, when he planned to pick up his 10-year-old twin daughters and eight-year-old son to bring them back to Nova Scotia.

But the new requirement, beginning Tuesday, that travellers to Newfoundland and Labrador must self-isolate for five days left him with no choice but to cancel.

"I was devastated when I heard the news," he said. "I had to break the news with them on a Zoom call last night and they were very upset. They were looking forward to seeing me and their brother and sister here in the city."

Will try to travel again to Newfoundland next summer

With only a certain amount of time off from work, there was no way Thomas could spend five days in isolation.

"It's frustrating right now because Newfoundland seems to be the only jurisdiction right now that has implemented new travel restrictions," he said, adding he's been able to change his flights to next July when he's hoping the COVID-19 situation has settled down.

He's one of a number of people forced to change plans after new restrictions were announced Sunday.

Krista Blackwood had made it as far as the gate at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport Sunday night on her way home to Newfoundland, when for some reason her flight was cancelled and she was rebooked on one that leaves Tuesday, along with everyone else who was waiting.

"People were crying, people were angry," she said.

She is still going to travel home, but because of isolation rules she will have to hunker down until Boxing Day, meaning she will miss Christmas Day with her sister, niece and other family members.

It was already a difficult time, as she was heading back home to St. John's earlier than she had expected, because a Christmas pantomime she was stage managing at Neptune Theatre was cancelled for safety reasons.

'It's stopping people from coming home'

While the theatre company has gone "above and beyond" to support her in an attempt to get her home to spend Christmas with her family, it won't happen due to things out of its control.

As a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador, Blackwood has been impressed by how the province's government has implemented strict guidelines through the pandemic, but said it doesn't make things any easier.

"It's really disappointing, obviously I understand why, but it's so hard at Christmas time, the restrictions are doing exactly what they want them to do, it's stopping people from coming home," Blackwood said. 

Krista Blackwood is shown in the centre of this photo from last Christmas alongside her niece Emily Bonnell, left, and sister Kimberly Bonnell, right, in Port de Grave N.L. (Submitted)

No new travel restrictions are expected in Nova Scotia, although Premier Tim Houston is encouraging people to limit their close contacts to small numbers of people.

Houston will be part of a meeting of all Atlantic premiers Monday afternoon but there is no word on what is on the agenda.

The premier's office also released a statement to CBC News confirming Houston has discussed international travel with his caucus following recommendations from Ottawa to avoid non-essential travel outside the country.

The statement said no Progressive Conservative MLAs will be travelling abroad over Christmas.


Gareth Hampshire began his career with CBC News in 1998. He has worked as a reporter in Edmonton and is now based in Halifax.