Inconsistencies in Atlantic provinces' reopening plans raise concerns for tour operators
'Our challenge really falls around trying to figure out and manoeuvre through a ununified opening strategy'
Maritime tour operators are confused about the COVID-19 guidelines to follow as travelling begins.
The P.E.I. government announced its accelerated reopening plan on June 15. Tour operators say they've been getting calls from customers asking about what rules to follow while travelling.
Conflicting travel guidelines
Richard Arnold, president of Atlantic Tours and Travel, said the different quarantine rules of each province create a challenge for their operations.
"Our challenge really falls around trying to figure out and manoeuvre through a unified opening strategy," he said.
"If you're coming from Western Canada and only have one vaccine, or two vaccines, is that going to matter? I mean we can't take people off the coach and say, 'sorry, we're leaving you at the New Brunswick border because you can't get in.' We have to accommodate everyone and come up with an operating standard."
Arnold also said there is confusion on what protocols to follow if a possible exposure happens during travel.
"If 20 of us are on a motor coach and we get to P.E.I., and someone's not feeling well, and ends up being tested or has some exposure to COVID, what happens to the rest of the group? Are we allowed to continue on?" Arnold said.
Mike Cassidy, owner of Maritime Bus, said tour operators are doing their best to figure out a plan.
"The phones, the emails, the texts have not stopped. There is confusion, and we in business are trying to sift through all the information, lessen the confusion, and make sure we welcome people to our Island."
There's a responsibility from transit operators to let visitors know the travel guidelines of the province, Cassidy said.
"You're on a bus, and the bus is going to Charlottetown, P.E.I., and if you can't get across our border, you have a problem," Cassidy said.
"So our job is to make sure you know, 'This is what you need, this is how we can get you across the border.'"
Arnold said the different travel rules of each province may discourage visitors to the Atlantic region.
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With files from Steve Bruce