Maritime Bus rolling with new border restrictions
Restrictions have impact on business, but service remains essential to passengers, owner says
The owner of Maritime Bus and Coach Atlantic says new COVID-19 restrictions in the region are having an impact on his business, though students and essential workers still rely on the service and others are using it to send packages.
Mike Cassidy said normally 40 per cent of the company's daily passenger traffic crosses Maritime borders.
During a lockdown situation, about 140 passengers use the service daily, compared to between 275 to 325 when the Atlantic bubble was open last summer and fall.
There is, however, more travel within the borders of the individual provinces of P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
And Cassidy said while passenger counts may be negatively affected by the new restrictions, parcel business has increased.
The bus service will continue through the new restrictions because it's an essential service.
"People do have to travel," Cassidy said.
"We had university students leaving Fredericton using the bus to get to the Halifax airport to fly home for the end of the semester, and I'm glad the bus was available for those students. And I'm sure there's a mom or a dad or a family member wanting to see their child, their student, home."
Nova Scotia has begun a four-week lockdown after a recent surge in cases, and the government is asking all Nova Scotians to avoid travel outside their communities unless it's essential.
The new measures for P.E.I., announced Friday and in place until at least May 17, include:
- Travel for seasonal residents coming to P.E.I. from within the Atlantic provinces is paused.
- All P.E.I. resident registered truck drivers, rotational workers, transport crews, military and coast guard (regardless of where they travel) must isolate until first negative test, unless eligible for same day travel self-isolation exemption.
- Same-day travel exemptions will be limited to necessary travel for medical care, work where not entering workplaces and/or interacting with others, and passport renewal and consular visits, following the same day travel exemption requirements and testing schedule.
- Individuals dropping off and picking up students or individuals at airports and train stations is an eligible same day self-isolation exemption, based on certain guidelines and testing regimen.
- Travel to P.E.I. from within the Atlantic provinces through Family Connections will be reviewed to determine if the travel is to provide necessary support to Island resident or compassionate situations.
- Those permanently relocating will continue to be permitted for work or study or exceptional circumstances. Already-approved individuals may continue to enter. For people looking to come after May 17, applications can be accepted and processed but approvals will not be granted until at least May 17.
Cassidy said drivers are not concerned about the new testing and isolating requirements.
"We have been getting tested. We have been doing the self-isolation, we have been tested," he said. "And the protocols that have been in place that we have been living with, we have not seen a drastic change in what we have been doing because we were doing it."
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With files from Angela Walker