N.S. premier says N.B. border restrictions to be lifted June 30
Premier Iain Rankin says he will follow advice from Public Health
Nova Scotia's premier says he and the province's Public Health team are considering whether new information around New Brunswick's border measures is enough to welcome travellers from the province without the need to have isolation requirements.
Premier Iain Rankin also noted that the restrictions will only be in place for New Brunswick for another week, at the most. This extra time will mean more Nova Scotians can get their second dose of vaccine, giving more protections to everyone, Rankin said.
Rankin confirmed during a news briefing on Thursday that Nova Scotia will open to New Brunswickers without restrictions starting June 30. New Brunswickers who have had two doses of vaccine can also enter Nova Scotia without isolating effective Thursday.
Rankin had a call with the Atlantic premiers Wednesday afternoon, including Premier Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick, as the main border crossing between both provinces remained closed off due to protesters opposing the isolation requirements.
Hours after the call, RCMP broke up the blockade and arrested at least two people just after 8 p.m. AT.
During the premiers' call, Rankin said Higgs shared more details on his proposal that New Brunswick provide information on travellers entering New Brunswick from outside the Atlantic provinces, so they can be tracked when they cross provincial borders.
Rankin added Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, was also on the call to hear more about how New Brunswick enforces their own restrictions.
"Those are positive things that Dr. Strang is considering and looking at how that may provide greater comfort to our Public Health team," Rankin told CBC Wednesday evening.
The premier would not say whether those considerations would take hours or days.
The Nova Scotia government announced Tuesday afternoon that most travellers from New Brunswick will continue to have to self-isolate upon arrival, a decision that came less than 24 hours before Nova Scotia opened its borders with P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador without isolation or testing requirements.
Rankin called for people protesting at the border to stop, saying it "makes no sense" that people who want to have the border open were blocking the same border.
"There is a lot at stake. I am not going to change because a select few decide that they are going to put their own interests in front of the … safety of Nova Scotians," Rankin said.
But conversations with Higgs will continue, Rankin said, and if they feel like New Brunswick has the right mechanisms at their border, "we'll be flexible and reasonable as we always have been."
Prior to the RCMP breaking up the blockade, the premier called on anyone with influence over the protesters to encourage them to stand down, such as opposition PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, who represents the riding of Cumberland North, which borders New Brunswick.
On Tuesday, Smith-McCrossin posted a Facebook video where she said Rankin had until 4 p.m. AT Tuesday to change the restrictions, "or the residents of Cumberland are shutting down the Trans-Canada highway" until the quarantine requirements were lifted.
Houston says blockades 'never appropriate'
Smith-McCrossin told CBC News Wednesday that people contacted her to let her know they were going to be at the protest.
Although Rankin said Smith-McCrossin helped start the protest, PC Leader Tim Houston told reporters Wednesday that she was only communicating the plans for the blockade, which had already taken shape in the community.
Houston said he would be talking with the PC caucus, and Smith-McCrossin, about possible sanction or discipline for her actions.
"Blockades are never appropriate. We should never be encouraging a blockade," Houston said.
"The emotions are very high and have been very high in the border communities in particular for quite some time. And they spilled over yesterday."
Houston noted that Smith-McCrossin called for the blockades to come down Tuesday night, and did not attend the protests Wednesday, but instead was in Halifax asking to meet with Rankin. The premier was on the province's South Shore for a funding announcement for the film industry.
With files from Nova Scotia News at 6, and As it Happens