COVID-19 protocols should be aligned among Atlantic provinces, Greens say
Bevan-Baker calls on province to draft memorandum of agreement
P.E.I.'s Official Opposition is calling on the province to create a memorandum of understanding that clearly lays out the shared responsibilities among the four Atlantic provinces with regards to COVID-19 and the regional bubble.
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker made the request in the P.E.I. Legislature Tuesday after a traveller was turned away at Confederation Bridge and later linked to four new cases of COVID-19 on the Island.
The man was travelling from the United States through Nova Scotia to P.E.I. on a student visa. An Island man went to pick him up in Nova Scotia and they travelled in the same vehicle back to Confederation Bridge.
The man who had travelled from the U.S. was denied entry at the bridge because he did not have the proper documentation. The man from P.E.I. was allowed back on the Island.
Premier Dennis King said the new cases might have been prevented if there had been better communication between Canada Border Services Agency and the provincial jurisdictions, and if federal border agents were asking travellers whether they know the requirements to enter each province.
Having an Atlantic bubble requires that all jurisdictions within that bubble maintain the same level of surveillance.— Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker
Bevan-Baker suggested King should have insisted all provincial isolation protocols be aligned among all four provinces before agreeing to be a part of the Atlantic bubble. On Monday, Nova Scotia strengthened its protocols for people entering the province.
No monitoring process
But Bevan-Baker said Islanders were "shocked" to learn that when the bubble opened July 3, Nova Scotia did not have a process to monitor people going through the mandatory self-isolation period.
"Having an Atlantic bubble requires that all jurisdictions within that bubble maintain the same level of surveillance, or we're all assuming a much higher risk and our extra precautions here on Prince Edward Island essentially become meaningless," Bevan-Baker said.
King responded by saying the Atlantic provinces already have an agreement on the general principles.
"That is, we're doing everything we can to allow the free movement of Atlantic Canadians within our borders, while at the same time learning to live with COVID-19."