Talks of Atlantic bubble suspended, premiers say
Release says the provinces hope to resume regional travel by summer
The four Atlantic premiers say they are deferring conversations about reforming the Atlantic bubble, according to a joint news release sent Wednesday evening.
The release said the Council of Atlantic Premiers met by teleconference to discuss the outbreaks underway within the region.
"Premiers agreed that recent outbreaks of COVID-19, accelerated by emerging variants of concern, have made it necessary to maintain restrictions on non-essential travel within the Atlantic region," the release read.
"Premiers will revisit the re-opening of the Atlantic Travel Bubble when the threat of further outbreaks has been reduced, based on advice from the region's Chief Medical Officers of Health."
The provincial leaders had initially planned to open the bubble on April 19, and then pushed that date to May 3 based on regional case numbers.
On Tuesday, Nova Scotia announced a two-week lockdown, the same day the province reported 96 cases of COVID-19 — a record high number of positive cases for a single day. The province announced another 75 new cases on Wednesday.
New Brunswick announced the province's 36th death this week: an individual in their 20s from the Moncton region, marking the province's youngest death since the pandemic began.
Nova Scotia currently has 489 active cases, while New Brunswick has 122, Prince Edward Island has 11 and Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting 27 cases.
Premiers Higgs, Rankin, Furey and King say they "support the federal government's commitment to ensure federal supports for workers and employers remain in place."
"These supports should stay in place at their current levels for as long as they are needed to offset the negative impact of the pandemic on the region's economy," they said in the joint statement, while also encouraging Atlantic Canadians to continue to get vaccinated.
The premiers said they remain optimistic that the bubble — which provided unrestricted regional travel from July to November 2020 — can resume by summer.