New Brunswickers struggle with tighter restrictions

·3 min read

Markoshi Baladad had a plan all worked out. His family members from Calgary, who he hasn’t seen since 2018, would travel to New Brunswick and self-isolate in his cabin here for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

He was eager to show his parents, sister and brother-in-law the life he and his wife have built in Hopewell Cape, and especially to see his niece who he has not yet met.

But a pandemic-related policy change by the provincial government makes that plan impossible right now.

Under heightened restrictions which came into effect with the provincewide return to the orange phase of pandemic recovery, Canadian residents who own property in the province or who have immediate family members here, including parents, children, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents or a significant other, are longer be permitted to enter the province. Previously, family members had been allowed to reunite in New Brunswick if the visitors self-isolated for 14 days first.

“It's actually very disappointing to hear,” said Baladad, adding that he was surprised to hear the news of the policy change.

Baladad had been eager to show his family simple things from heating his home with wood to taking a hike in the forest. His family members follow his YouTube and Instagram page, he said, and will have to continue to see his new life that way for now, instead of in person.

“I'm hoping our family can reunite soon,” said Baladad

Leslee Johnson of Dorchester lives minutes away from her mother in Tidnish, Nova Scotia, but is now similarly cut off from her family.

“We’re so close, but can’t see each other. We are used to weekly visits,” she said.

Johnson counted the family lucky in July when the Atlantic bubble was established just in time for her daughter’s first birthday, adding that the early pandemic lockdown had been difficult.

Marilyn Stewart's family members live just across the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border in Amherst, while she is in the Moncton area. Under the new restrictions, she says she's without access to her support system as she grapples with ongoing mental health struggles.

“This is becoming a very difficult and lonely time for me now,” she said.

For Richard Blaquiere, it may mean a much longer separation from his daughter, currently in Halifax. Blaquiere said he was hoping his daughter could spend a few days with him in Riverview before starting a job as a nurse in Yellowknife in a couple of weeks. Now, that seems unlikely.

Gail Everett of Riverview said before the clamp down on out-of-province visitors, her son travelled from Ontario to spend a month in the Maritimes. He chose to get tested before travelling and then self-isolate in an AirBnb, but then could see her, she said. It is unclear when she will be able to see any of her family members who live elsewhere now.

It’s hard, she said, “but that’s the way it is right now.”

Non-residents remain permitted to enter the province for child care and custody arrangements and, where exempted by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, for compassionate reasons, said Coreen Enos, communications officer for the department of Justice and Public Safety.

New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer Doctor Jennifer Russell said in a news conference Friday, “we are really concerned about the increasing number of cases globally, in Canada, and in the U.S."

She said the new travel restrictions were in light of this and the U.K. variant of the COVID-19 virus, which is reported to be more transmissible, now present in three provinces in Canada.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal