The borders are open, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says people still have to fill out a travel form before arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Canada Day marked the first time the province welcomed casual visitors from the rest of the country since April 2020, when it imposed its controversial travel ban on non-residents.
Exemptions were made for essential workers and others, depending on circumstances.
“It’s important to remember that this new form is not an approval or denial of travel. All travellers are permitted to enter the province. You do not need to have the travel form completed in order to proceed with making your travel plans,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday. “But it must be completed before you arrive in the province. The new travel form is simply the mechanism for anyone arriving in the province to declare their vaccination status and determine their self-isolation and testing requirements.”
The form must be submitted no earlier than three days before arrival, because a negative COVID-19 test, should one be required, must be done within that window.
However, fully vaccinated travellers do not need testing and are not required to self-isolate.
It’s not clear why those forms can’t be submitted earlier.
The forms must be submitted online, Fitzgerald explained, because border officials cannot view or assist with personal medical information.
However, fully vaccinated travellers only ever need to fill it out once. They can use the same reference number for subsequent trips.
As well, domestic rotational workers will now all be treated the same, as alerts for worksite COVID-19 outbreaks are being discontinued.
To accommodate the need for extra testing of arriving passengers, health authorities are setting up clinics near points of entry, but appointments still need to be booked.
Health Minister Dr. John Haggie said barring any restrictions under federal regulations, rotational workers and other residents returning from international destinations will be treated the same as everyone else.
That means there is no requirement for isolation for anyone who is fully vaccinated.
The federal government is loosening restrictions on fully vaccinated citizens arriving from overseas as of July 5.
However, there is still no movement on opening up travel to and from the French islands of St-Pierre-Miquelon.
Premier Andrew Furey said those talks are still happening at the federal level, an answer he has given since the question was first raised last year.
Fitzgerald laid out some of the new capacity limits for gatherings now that the first step of reopening has arrived.
Up to 250 people are now allowed at formal outdoor gatherings, with physical distancing. Indoor formal gatherings can have 200 people or 75 per cent capacity, whichever is less, as long as physical distancing is possible.
A maximum of 25 people are allowed at funeral home visitations.
People can kick up their heels at weddings now, but dancing in bars is still a no-no.
Informal gatherings can include as many as 50 people as long as they’re being held outside. Inside, it’s still the household plus the “steady 20” of close contacts.
Fitzgerald said that while the provincial vaccine rate has exceeded expectations — with about 80 per cent partially vaccinated and 20 per cent fully vaccinated — the rate for young people is still a concern.
With new variants in circulation, young people are more susceptible to severe disease than before.
“I cannot overstate the importance of making the choice to be vaccinated, regardless of your age. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and those around you,” she said.
Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram