Patient feels caught in the middle of N.S., N.B. border rule changes

·3 min read
People travelling from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia for medical reasons won't have to isolate like other New Brunswick travelers. (Serge Clavet/Radio Canada - image credit)
People travelling from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia for medical reasons won't have to isolate like other New Brunswick travelers. (Serge Clavet/Radio Canada - image credit)

Saint John's Theresa Speight, 64, is visually impaired and takes a Maritime Bus to Nova Scotia almost every month to get her artificial eye checked, a service not covered under Medicare in New Brunswick.

She says she feels in the dark about the Nova Scotia border restrictions.

"Nobody knows what's going on and what to expect," she said. "You got to think about these people, too."

Nova Scotia announced Tuesday travellers from New Brunswick will to have to self-isolate upon arrival, even if they're fully vaccinated. The announcement came less than 24 hours before Nova Scotia opened its borders with P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador without isolation or testing requirements.

When Speight heard about the rules, she wanted to know how that might affect her ability to get to her appointment on July 7.

Her fear is that she'll be stopped at the border, which is more than an inconvenience since she travels by bus and can't just turn an entire bus around.

"We were [previously] told that if we were missing something ... they can remove us from the bus and we have to phone somebody to come and get us and take us back to Saint John. We can be denied access," she said.

Speight said she could not find information about how these changes will affect her. The news release sent out Tuesday did not say what has changed, if anything, for medical patients travelling to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick.

Government of New Brunswick
Government of New Brunswick

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Health said people traveling for essential medical services are exempt from the self-isolation requirement but must follow the exempt traveler protocol.

They must apply to enter the province via the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in, and check the "exempt traveler" category. They will be automatically approved, but they will still have to follow conditions such as physical distancing and mask wearing.

Speight said despite this clarification she is still facing challenges. She does not have a computer, and usually gets her MLA Trevor Holder's office to help her fill out the form. When she called them Wednesday, she said they told her the rules are not clear to them, and things may change again by June 30.

"They're saying ... they don't have the papers to get into Nova Scotia for medical," she said.

"I want clarity soon, because in two weeks, I don't want to wait till the very last minute and then they tell me, you know, you need this paper."

Premier Blaine Higgs said all Atlantic province premiers will be meeting Wednesday night to discuss where to go from here.

"I think we have a path to a bubble," he said. "I'm thinking tonight we'll map out a path here we can share information that ... we have been collecting."

Speight said she and her husband have had both doses of the vaccine. She says medical travellers should not have to suffer for restrictions on non-essential travel, and she wants the rules to be made clear and concrete for people whose lives and health will be affected by inter-provincial border restrictions.

"I'm not the only person that takes the bus to Nova Scotia," she said. "Especially when your vision is impaired. And you're going through this."

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