The pandemic has been devastating for the economy, particularly in tourism-dependent towns across Nova Scotia.
So local officials like Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland are welcoming the Atlantic Bubble that comes into effect Friday, which will allow Atlantic Canadians to visit other provinces in the region without having to self-isolate.
“You have to balance it with protocols and safety and the province has done a good job,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “All the provinces in the Maritimes have done a good job. We’ve stepped up quickly I think and reacted and hence we are able to put the bubble in place.”
Besides the immediate hit to economic cash-flow, the pandemic's ramifications for municipalities will extend into next year when businesses have to pay taxes and other bills, Cleveland said.
“Digby is particularly hard-hit, we’ve had three major festivals, they’ll all been cancelled, and the accommodations business, and the restaurant business, 20, 30 per cent of normal numbers.”
In a news release Thursday, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said he knows many people are still nervous about this virus.
“Our visitors may be, too," Strang said. "We can make their visits a safe experience for everyone by being patient and kind, by practising good hand hygiene, distancing and by wearing a mask when you can't stay six feet apart."
Cleveland said he believes that the screening procedures in place - for example on the Saint John to Digby ferry - are robust enough that he’s not worried about a COVID influx.
In the news release Thursday, the province reminded Nova Scotians who are planning to visit another Atlantic province to check before they leave to ensure they have the information documentation required in that province.
Visitors to Nova Scotia will need to show proof of residency before they can get in.
“Every adult will need to show either a drivers' licence, government identification card, health card, or a utility bill or bank statement with a valid Atlantic Canadian address to provincial officials at airports, ferries or the land border when they arrive in the province,” the release said. “No self-declaration form will be required.”
If people can prove with these documents that their permanent home is in Atlantic Canada, they will not have to self-isolate for 14 days when coming into Nova Scotia.
"Businesses and communities are looking forward to welcoming Atlantic Canadian visitors," said Premier Stephen McNeil in the release.
"We've worked hard to get to the point where we can welcome our neighbours safely and it's important for everyone to respect the public health guidelines."
The release noted that Nova Scotia’s borders are restricted, not closed. People from outside Atlantic Canada can enter but they must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive. If they have already self-isolated in another Atlantic Canadian province, they may enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating again.
The province reminded Nova Scotians who are planning to visit another Atlantic province to check before they leave to ensure they have the information documentation required in that province.
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