OTTAWA — Canada's border agency said it is temporarily closing two ports of entry in the Atlantic region due to COVID-19.
The Canada Border Services Agency said the affected offices are in Bathurst, N.B., and Charlottetown, P.E.I.
CBSA spokeswoman Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr said service at the offices is being suspended because of COVID-19 infections and close contacts among staff.
"They can't work when they're sick from home because they have to provide the service on-site," she said
Most of the staff at the two small offices had either tested positive or forced to isolate due to their proximity to someone who has COVID-19, she added.
Anyone trying to enter Canada by those two ports of entry are being told to contact alternative CBSA offices for service. Those seeking service in Bathurst are being asked to call the CBSA office in Moncton and speak to an officer there.
The agency said most services can be provided over the phone, though in-person services may require travelling to another office. Officers may also be physically deployed from elsewhere if needed.
"Everybody still can come to Canada, but your business is going to be handled somewhere else," said Gadbois-St-Cyr.
The closures are the first to hit Canada's border agency since the start of the pandemic, and come as the country has seen a surge in new infections fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Gadbois-St-Cyr said it's unknown whether other port of entry closures might be on the horizon, but added that the agency is monitoring the situation and will keep the public updated on any further changes.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press