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article imageCanada's COVID-19 'Atlantic Bubble' is now on life-support

By Karen Graham     Nov 28, 2020 in Health
The “bubble” pact between Canada’s four Atlantic provinces has disintegrated in the face of rising COVID-19 cases across the region. Nearly 60 new cases of the coronavirus were reported on Saturday and Sunday
For those people living outside of Canada, the Atlantic Bubble is a special travel-restricted area created on July 3, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. It's an agreement between four provinces in Atlantic Canada that include New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador which allows unrestricted travel among provincial residents - but restricts travel of residents of outside provinces.
The pact is similar to the quarantine policy that was created by New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus. The one big advantage the Atlantic Canada provinces have over the three U.S. states is a very much smaller population, making it easier to control people's movements.
The Canadian bubble allowed unrestricted travel within the four provinces after someone had first quarantined for 14 days, The provinces in the bubble consistently had the lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases compared to other Canadian provinces throughout the pandemic, at least, up until November.
On November 23, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island announced plans to suspend involvement in the bubble for a minimum of two weeks effective November 24, do to rising numbers of coronavirus cases. This meant that people from other Atlantic provinces would be required to self-isolate upon entry,
The restrictions left New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to carry on with the bubble alone. But on November 26, New Brunswick announced plans to reinstate a 14-day self-isolation requirement on out-of-province travelers, stopping free-travel amongst the member provinces.
Peggy s Covem Lighthouse in Nova Scotia on Septembver 3  2018.
Peggy's Covem Lighthouse in Nova Scotia on Septembver 3, 2018.
Sukanta Goswami (CC BY-SA 4.0)
"At this point, community transmission has not been confirmed here, but the threat is real we've seen it all across the country," said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs. "We've seen it in every province we've seen it all around us. So taking swift action right now is important."
Premier Andrew Furey of Newfoundland and Labrador, at a recent news conference, said, “The Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride. But the situation has changed (and) I have made the tough decision to implement a circuit break.”
Canada's East Coast provinces have a combined population of 2.4 million people, while the 2020 estimated population for New York state stands at 19.4 million people.
But the provinces were able to keep the coronavirus at bay with prudent travel restrictions and tough public health measures, saving summer tourism for the region, worth around C$5 billion ($3.8 billion) annually.
As of November 28, Canada has recorded 362,604 confirmed coronavirus cases and 11,916 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
More about Atlantic canada, Covid19, four Atlantic provinces, Travel restrictions, Testing
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