Long lineups and delays at the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia border in Aulac are forming again Sunday as travellers return to their home provinces on Day 3 of the Atlantic bubble.
Jacques Babin, the executive director of the Department of Public Safety's inspection and enforcement branch, said at 2 p.m. the wait to cross into New Brunswick was about one hour and 15 minutes.
"It was manageable most of the day until shortly after 1 [p.m.] when traffic started to significantly increase in large part to New Brunswickers coming back to New Brunswick."
Babin, who has been working at the border crossing for three days, said the decision to wave vehicles through without checking their information depends on the level of traffic and the safety of motorists.
"There's a number of factors that play in line. We try to balance COVID related matters and highway safety as well."
On Friday afternoon, after traffic was stalled most of the day with long lineups, both provincial governments allowed traffic to cross both ways without stopping for a couple of hours.
Babin said modifications were made Saturday to help commercial traffic and essential workers coming into the province.
"That's flowing a little bit better."
Those vehicles can now use the right-hand shoulder of the highway at a significantly reduced speed to go through.
"That means they are not required to stop and answer any questions."
But Babin said there will still be delays when the amount of traffic is doubled or even quadrupled.
"There was over 9,000 vehicles that crossed over here on Friday and that's a lot of vehicles."
Babin said there will be delays when traffic is increased that much.
To speed up the process, he encourages people to download, print and fill out the health information form so screeners can capture that data for the province's Health Department..
Once at the control point, vehicles are directed into the left lane, where up to seven screeners are ready to interact with the motorists.
While there has been frustration, Babin said most people on the way to see their families have been happy despite the long wait.
"They're thrilled to be able to come to New Brunswick for a visit."
Babin said they are working with the Department of Transportation to improve the traffic flow and site setup. He added they expected to see the same number of vehicles that went through on Friday to go through Sunday.
Screening hit and miss
Chuck Linney and his wife, Sharon, of Amherst spent 40 minutes waiting to cross back into Nova Scotia after spending a few hours cycling on the trails in Sackville, N.B. He estimated the lineup to get into New Brunswick was at least four kilometres long.
Linney said they didn't have the form filled in Sunday when they crossed into New Brunswick because when they crossed on Saturday they were waved through without being asked for any information.
"It took us about five minutes to get through. They didn't even look at my licence. She asked me where I was coming from and where I lived."
Linney said when he told her he was picking up parts for his RV in Sackville, he was waved through.
But on Sunday, the couple spent up to 15 minutes answering questions as part of New Brunswick's screening process.
He said he didn't expect to have to wait to get back into his home province but there was a lineup there as well.
"I was shocked," he said. "It was jammed on both sides."
But Linney said he told his wife he wasn't going to let the lineup ruin the time they had spent together biking and having an ice cream.