As protesters blocked the major highway connecting Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to express anger with ongoing border restrictions, some Nova Scotians said they support their provincial government's decision to continue requiring those who enter the province from New Brunswick to self-isolate.
The Atlantic bubble was scheduled to resume on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., allowing residents of all four provinces to cross the borders without self-isolating.
But on Tuesday afternoon, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin announced that New Brunswick would not be included in Nova Scotia's bubble, citing public health concerns with New Brunswick's decision to open its borders last week to the rest of Canada without a self-isolation requirement, as long as travellers have one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Reaction was swift. Protesters upset by the decision initially blocked a section of the Trans-Canada Highway about 50 kilometres from the border between the two provinces. The protest later moved to the border itself before RCMP broke up the blockade and arrested at least two people Wednesday night.
But not everyone disagrees with the border restrictions.
'It was a way of protecting Nova Scotians'
Elizabeth Beaton, who lives in the community of Brierly Brook, near Antigonish, N.S., said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs made "a dangerous decision" by opening to the rest of the country.
Considering the increasing prominence of the delta variant of COVID-19, Beaton said requiring people to self-isolate when coming from New Brunswick is a reasonable public health measure.
"It was a way of protecting Nova Scotians, and I cannot even believe that anybody would criticize them for that."
Beaton questioned the protesters' impatience, since Nova Scotia is expected to open to the rest of Canada on June 30 anyway, although the province plans to impose quarantine requirements based vaccination status.
"We couldn't wait six more days? We waited 16 months!"
Helen Nicholson of West Porters Lake, east of Halifax, said she believes protesters are focusing their outrage on the wrong person.
"Blaine Higgs opening up the border of New Brunswick to the rest of Canada — he has completely destroyed the bubble single-handedly, and therefore people should be upset with him, and not upset with Iain Rankin," Nicholson said.
Pat Kipping of Halifax echoed that view, saying it was Higgs who "went rogue."
"It seems like he's the one the anger should be aimed at."
Wendy Ackerley of the Halifax-area community of Hammonds Plains was hoping to travel to New Brunswick in July to visit with family without having to isolate when she got home. Her trip is now in question, but Ackerley said even so, she supports the Nova Scotia government's decision.
"It's hard to, I think, to hear those words, 'Just wait a little bit longer.' But I think if we do, it will really pay off in the end," she said.
"We don't want to end up with a fourth wave in the fall and have schools closed and businesses closed again. And I think if we're really careful and we all do our part, I think we can avoid that."
Ackerley said the provincial government and public health officials have made thoughtful, fact-based decisions throughout the pandemic, and this one is no different.
"They've had to save us from ourselves, because if some of these rules weren't in place, I think we certainly would have been in a far more difficult position, with more people hospitalized, more pressure on our system, more people dying.
"Shutting things down at times, I think, is what had to be done to keep people away from each other and just to shut this virus down."
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