Couple allowed into the province, but their movers, belongings weren't

Sherry Reinhart and Tamara Alessi are spending their first days in New Brunswick in an empty house, with nothing but an air mattress, pet food, sandwich bread and water.

The couple, their two dogs and a cat arrived in New Brunswick on May 29, moving into their Miramichi home from Hamilton, Ontario looking for a slower and safer pace, they said. 

They were expecting the moving truck with all their belongings to arrive Tuesday, but the truck and movers were turned away at the Quebec border.

"So we've lost all our stuff, it's going to be in Quebec somewhere," Reinhart said.

The two say they've done everything they could to make sure they were allowed to enter the province and have the movers follow them. They called the 1-844 provincial COVID hotline, they asked what was required of them, and they drafted all the documents.

Submitted by Sherry Rienhart

When the two drove across the border, they checked with a border agent one last time: Can the moving van follow them? The answer was yes, they said.

Instead, the moving truck driver and two movers, who had a letter outlining who hired them, with a proof of purchase and address, was turned away twice Tuesday.

"That there seems to be a real loss of delineation as to what's allowed and what is not," Alessi said. "There seems to be a lot of lack of communication or ability to communicate with people as to what the processes are."

Alessi said the movers were going to unload the van and drive back to Ontario, without stopping anywhere in the province except for gas and washrooms if needed. And the two and their pets are planning to self-isolate for the required 14 days.

She said it's possible the rules had changed between the time she made the call to the province, about 10 days ago, and Tuesday, but neither of them were told what the change was.

The state of emergency declaration prompted by COVID-19 bans all "non-essential" inter-provincial travel into New Brunswick, giving provincial officers the power to turn people away.

There are multiple exceptions, including one for people moving into the province, but the declaration does not have any specific rules around moving vans and movers. 

The declaration does allow "commercial vehicle drivers delivering goods," but it's not clear if movers fall under this category.

Submitted by Sherry Rienhart

The province has not responded to a request for comment or clarification by publication time.

New Brunswick had a stretch of more than two weeks with no documented cases of COVID-19, allowing officials to ease some restrictions. But, now there's an outbreak of 13 cases in the Campbellton region, which officials have linked to one person travelling to Quebec and back without isolating.

The province has not announced any border restriction changes because of this recent outbreak.

'We need answers'

The couple's realtor, Lori Matchett, who helped them find their new home, said she has been in contact with the local MLA to get answers and is passing on information to them.

"They have been on the phone all day," she said. "They've got a lot of 'I'll call you back'."

"There's a lot of 'I don't know'."

Submitted by Lori Matchett

Matchett said the couple is her first out-of-province client, but they likely won't be the last.

"I think we need answers because this is not going away any time soon," she said.

"We're going to run into this again. So it would be nice to have a clear cut 'Ok this is what you need to do to not run into any issues.' Because their life is basically in the back of a truck right now."

The couple said as of Tuesday afternoon, the movers were trying to find a storage unit where they can store their belongings until they can retrieve them.

Alessi said every place they've tried is full, so their things might end up being stored as far away as Quebec City.

The couple moved to New Brunswick because life here is affordable.

Now they're worried about the extra expense of hiring other movers to retrieve their belongings.