HALIFAX — The reopening of the Atlantic travel bubble has been delayed for the second time as health officials in the region try to control the spread of COVID-19.
Atlantic Canada's premiers met Wednesday to discuss the bubble and concluded that outbreaks in the region "accelerated by variants of concern" have made it necessary to maintain restrictions on travel, the four premiers said in a joint statement.
And unlike the previous time they announced a delay, the four premiers did not provide a date on which they planned to allow free travel again within the region. "Premiers will revisit the reopening of the Atlantic travel bubble when the threat of further outbreaks has been reduced," they said.
Last summer, Atlantic Canadian residents were permitted to travel freely within the four provinces without being required to isolate for 14 days when they crossed provincial boundaries. Restrictions were maintained for the rest of the country. The travel bubble was closed last fall when infection rates began to rise in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The four premiers had hoped to reinstate the bubble on April 19, but another COVID-19 outbreak in New Brunswick led them to push the opening to May 3 at the earliest. A recent outbreak in Nova Scotia has led to record numbers of daily infections in that province and prompted health officials this week to impose a two-week lockdown. Nova Scotia reported 70 new cases Thursday.
Non-essential travel is either prohibited or discouraged in most of the Atlantic region but the four premiers say the bubble will likely reopen soon.
"Premiers remain optimistic that travel within Atlantic Canada will resume by summer, when most Atlantic Canadians have been vaccinated against COVID-19," they said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2021.
The Canadian Press