Premier Blaine Higgs said he is looking at opening up the border between Campbellton and some nearby Quebec communities in mid-July.
Some people on the Quebec side of the border, including members of Listuguj First Nation, have said they're treated poorly when they try to cross into Campbellton even for essential reasons.
In general, New Brunswick does not allow people travelling from Quebec into the province although there are exceptions, including border-area residents coming to Campbellton for a purpose deemed essential or to get to the Magdalen Islands.
Higgs suggested the decision to reopen the border will depend on how the first few weeks of the Atlantic bubble play out. The Atlantic region bubble starts Friday.
He said he can appreciate the anxiety in the communities, and it's similar to the anxiety faced in other border communities.
"There is hope here as we're moving forward with opening Campbellton back up into the yellow phase with the rest of New Brunswick," he told Information Morning Fredericton. "That's certainly a good sign."
Because of a cluster of COVID-19 cases, the Campbellton region had been stuck at an early phase of recovery but recently joined the rest of the province in a yellow phase, allowing all businesses to reopen.
Chief Dary Gray of Listuguj First Nation, on the Quebec side of the J.C. Van Horne Bridge, has said a letter he wrote to Higgs about bubbling with Campbellton wasn't answered. Multiple businesses in Campbellton have said they want to see their customers from Listuguj again.
Higgs said he's asking for patience.
"We want to get back to being a nation too. We want our citizens to be able to travel around the country. It's good for the economy, it's good for families, it's good for people to get back to living with COVID but doing it in a safe way."
Higgs said earlier that the province may open up to the rest of the country in mid to late July.
He said he apologises for not addressing the concerns of the Listuguj community in an official response letter, but the Departments of Public Safety and Aboriginal Affairs are also working on border issues.
"It has been slow as an official response from my office and certainly that's my fault. So I'm working to do that."
Along with sending a letter he also wants to talk to Gray about his concerns.
Higgs said he is still hoping to schedule a meeting with Campbellton Mayor Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin, who has expressed concerns about the quality of health care and the Campbellton hospital during the local cluster of cases.
While he hasn't spoken to Anglehart-Paulin, Higgs said he has spoken to others in the area, including some who have recovered from COVID-19.
"I've spoken with people have had a great experience with Campbellton hospital and how good they feel about the recovery of the region," Higgs said.
He said he hopes COVID-related anxiety in Campbellton will continue to ease.
"I know we're asking for patience and diligence, but we feel good about our record."