New Brunswick's new target date for opening border to 2 Quebec regions is Aug. 1

Premier Blaine Higgs has pushed a potential limited expansion of New Brunwick's own travel bubble into Quebec to Aug.1, two weeks later than he talked about earlier.

The expansion would allow day trips from only two regions: Avignon Regional County Municipality, which borders Restigouche County and includes Listuguj First Nation and Pointe-à-la-Croix, and the Témiscouata Regional County Municipality, which borders Madawaska County.

"It's important people realize this is not a bubble with Quebec," Higgs told reporters Tuesday after New Brunswick recorded no new cases of COVID-19.

"This is a regional connection here by twinning some communities that have a way of life back and forth, and we will control that, so they can get back to a new normal."

Day trips only

There has been pressure on both sides of the Quebec-New Brunswick boundary to allow freer movement, and members of the Listuguj community have argued they are being denied their rights to unceded land.

Last Monday, Higgs said he wanted the border to open to Quebec border communities by the end of the week, which would have been July 17. But on Tuesday, Higgs said more time was needed to prepare.

The looser restrictions with Quebec border communities will permit day trips between the two regions and could be extended after two weeks. Higgs said the province won't be policing borders between communities in New Brunswick to see if people are breaking the rules.

People who have travelled outside the two border regions to other parts of Quebec will be asked not to come into New Brunswick.

People who do come into the province will not be allowed to travel anywhere else in Atlantic Canada as part of the larger bubble.

"This is only a regional thing, this is with New Brunswick," he said. "This doesn't open up to the rest of the Atlantic provinces. If they make changes on their own, that's in their court."

Border officials won't know whether an individual travelling into New Brunswick was recently in other parts of Quebec. Higgs said peace officers will be relying mostly on the individual's integrity.

"It's not about you," he said. "It's about you coming into contact with a 70 or 80-year-old, and you're the reason they are infected."

To underscore a point about reckless behaviour, he pointed to a photo circulating on the internet of people at an annual poker run, which has provoked comments suggesting the gathering was at Grand Lake over the weekend.

Organizers have said the picture was not of this year's event, which was held virtually to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Anxiety with opening the border

Higgs said there is a lot of anxiety about the number of COVID-19 cases in big cities such as Toronto and Montreal, so the August date gives New Brunswickers a chance to prepare for reopening the border.

Travellers will have time to register, and the province will have time to get compliance officers set up at the border and to work with various communities to instill proper protocols.

170 cases of disease in province

There are still five active cases of the respiratory disease in New Brunswick. These include three active cases in the Fredericton region, Zone 3, and two in the Moncton region, Zone 1.

No one is in hospital.

The Canadian Press/NIAID-RML via AP
The Canadian Press/NIAID-RML via AP

Out of a total of 170 cases of COVID-19, 163 people have recovered. There have been two deaths since the virus broke out in March.

To date, 49,369 tests for COVID-19 have been performed.

What to do if you have a symptom

People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test on the government website at gnb.ca.

Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: a fever above 38 C, a new cough or worsening chronic cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, new onset of fatigue, new onset of muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.

People with one of those symptoms are asked to:

  • Stay at home.

  • Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor.

  • Describe symptoms and travel history.

  • Follow instructions.