Edmundston border checkpoint stops travellers moving home, buying beer

Travellers entering the province from Quebec on Thursday got their first taste of how New Brunswick's new border restrictions will work.

The province instituted stricter rules about cross-border travel on Wednesday.

Checkpoints were set up at both the Van Horne Bridge in Campbellton and at a weigh-station on Highway 2 just inside the New Brunswick border, about 14 kilometres north of Edmundston.

At the Highway 2 checkpoint, Department of Natural Resources officers were conducting interviews up to 10 minutes long. They turned away anyone who did not have a legitimate reason for entering the province.

Public Safety officials were also on scene.

Officers were seen giving "passes" to motorists who have to cross the border regularly for work, and waved transport trucks through without checking them.

Under the new restrictions, anyone allowed into the province will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days unless they're driving straight through to another province.

'Just went to get beer'

Alex Bishop and Dione Rousseau said they were travelling through New Brunswick on the way to their new home in Nova Scotia.

They weren't supposed to move until April 1, but with the threat of COVID-19 closing borders, they decided to make the trip from British Columbia early.

"They just asked what our names were, they checked the licence plate, they asked where our destination was," said Bishop.

Shane Fowler/CBC

"I was nervous coming through, though, I was hoping we'd be able to get through because, obviously, we want to get home."

While there was a checkpoint on the western side of the divided highway, coming into the province, there was nothing to keep anyone from heading into Quebec on the eastern lane.

That may explain why Emilie Berube was able to make the short trek to Quebec from her home in Edmundston.

Shane Fowler/CBC

"I just went to get beer," said Berube.

But on her return, she said, officers in New Brunswick told her that regardless of the length of her stay, she would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Enhancing checkpoints

Not all border crossings were being staffed Thursday.

No officers were posted in Flatlands, just a few kilometres up the road from Campbellton, where there is a bridge into Quebec. 

Premier Blaine Higgs said at his daily briefing that the province is still working on setting up checkpoints, which will be expanded to all entry points along the Quebec border..

"We will enhance our checkpoints as necessary," he said.

There were reports of long lines at the Campbellton border crossing, but Higgs said he expects the wait times to decrease in coming days.