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Tourism operators and business owners expressed relief after the four Atlantic premiers announced a July 3 start date to the long-delayed “travel bubble” between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The premiers of the four Atlantic provinces announced the start date of the bubble on Wednesday afternoon. A statement noted that the move will allow travel between the provinces without the requirement of a 14-day quarantine, “as COVID-19 case numbers remain low in each province”.
P.E.I. will still maintain COVID-19 related travel restrictions on provinces outside of Atlantic Canada for the time being. Seasonal residents from other provinces will also be able to travel between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I., provided they have documentation of completion of a 14-day self-isolation.
Seasonal residents will not be able to travel to Newfoundland and Labrador at this time.
The easing of the restrictions will provide some economic oxygen for P.E.I.’s tourism sector.
Business owner Jennifer Ridgeway welcomed news of the potential influx of tourists.
In the summer, visitors from out of province account for roughly 75 per cent of business at her Charlottetown shops, which include Moonsnail Soapworks and Luna Eclectic Emporium, and Moonsnail Mercantile store in Cavendish.
“I guess that I could say that I’m cautiously optimistic,’’ says Ridgeway.
“I think everybody is hoping to make enough money to keep their staff on.’’
Business has been “very quiet’’ compared to a regular, pre-pandemic June, she adds.
Ridgeway says there simply are not enough Islanders alone to keep her businesses in the black.
She believes the Atlantic bubble could help keep some businesses from going bankrupt this summer.
AT A GLANCE
Documents that will be needed for travel within Atlantic Canada include:
- Self-declaration form, to be completed online and presented upon entry.
- Proof of residency in Atlantic Canada
- For seasonal residents, proof of completion of self-isolation.
- Islanders returning from travel outside of Atlantic Canada will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days before being able to travel within the province or region
Rosemary Lee, owner of The Eden Hall Inn on West Street in Charlottetown, calls the bubble “good news’’ but is worried about a possible spread of COVID-19. She is struggling with whether to stay open for now.
She reopened in mid-June after closing on March 18. Her inn is normally open year-round. She has yet to have a single guest.
Last year, Lee had a fair number of guests from Atlantic Canada stay at her inn.
In the legislature on Wednesday, Premier Dennis King said Atlantic Canadian residents travelling between provinces will be asked for a self-declaration form, as well as proof of residency upon entry. Screening will still be maintained at the Confederation Bridge and at the Wood Islands ferry terminal.
"There will still be information screening,” King said in an interview with local media. “It won't be the free-flowing travel across the Confederation Bridge that we would have seen in other years."
King said P.E.I. is prepared to re-instate travel restrictions if the Island sees an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
"It wouldn't necessarily mean that if we had one case that we would back the bubble off,” King said.
King said if there was a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, the province would consider whether there is community spread, its capacity for contact tracing and its ability to contain spread in determining if a shut-down is needed.
"We know we're moving into some uncharted waters here. And if we do need to, because the information requires us to pull back, we're very prepared to do that," King said.
Green Opposition Leader Peter Bevan-Baker welcomed the news of the bubble.
But he said he had concerns about data sharing between provinces.
“How are we going to verify that whoever comes here from other provinces have indeed done their 14-day isolation in the first port of call,” Bevan-Baker said.
Gerard Adams, interim CEO of the Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the news as well, saying businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector have been “severely impacted” by the pandemic.
“We look forward to further details of how the bubble will be safely managed within the province and would also like to see such information released in a comprehensive plan that outlines how and when all non-residents will be permitted to enter P.E.I.,” Adams said in a statement.
“Overall, this is very positive news for our Island economy and small business community.”
THEY SAID IT
A collection of comments made following the announcement of the Atlantic bubble on Wednesday:
“This is big, big news for our economy. We’re confident that public health guidelines and directives will be adhered to and that this will be a win-win situation for both visitors and Island businesses.”
-Kevin Murphy, spokesman for the newly formed Business Continuity Group and president of Murphy Hospitality Group
“Although this announcement today will not have any direct impact on passenger movements at YYG, we do believe it is a positive first step and are hopeful that it will result in a further easing of restrictions, when the time is right and it is safe to do so.”
-Doug Newson, YYG Charlottetown Airport CEO
“Allowing increased interprovincial travel is welcome news for our local business community, especially those in the tourism and hospitality industry, who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
-Gerard Adams, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce interim CEO
With files from Jim Day
- Atlantic travel bubble coming July 3
- Safe travel, tourist incentives emphasized in push for Atlantic Canada bubble
- Ask the people: What do you think about Nova Scotia bursting the bubble?
- EDITORIAL: An Atlantic bubble and beyond — Onwards, with caution
- Atlantic premiers want 'Atlantic Bubble,' but some are more certain than others