P.E.I. and N.L. step back from Atlantic bubble as COVID-19 cases rise

The provincial governments of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador announced Monday morning that they are taking a break from the Atlantic bubble as COVID-19 cases rise in the region.

The two regions backed out after Nova Scotia and New Brunswick saw an increase in cases, reporting 44 and 77 active COVID-19 cases, respectively, as of Sunday.

Read more: N.B. asks travellers from Halifax to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms

N.L. Premier Andrew Furey said the Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride for the region, but the situation has changed.

“I have made the tough decision to implement a circuit break,” Furey said.

“As your premier, as a physician and as a concerned father and citizen, I must do what I promised: protect the best interest of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

As of Wednesday, all travellers from the Atlantic bubble to N.L. will have to self-isolate for 14 days. Non-essential travel will not be permitted.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King announced the province has made the same decision after talking to other Atlantic premiers over the weekend.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: New Brunswick breaks record for new COVID-19 case numbers' 2:16 Coronavirus: New Brunswick breaks record for new COVID-19 case numbers

Coronavirus: New Brunswick breaks record for new COVID-19 case numbers

As of Monday, the province is temporarily suspending all non-essential travel to and from P.E.I. for at least two weeks, King said.

King said he doesn’t think this is a step backward.

“I feel it is a proactive measure, a preventative step,” he said.

He said the decision is in the best interest of those in P.E.I., Canada’s smallest province.

“We have a health system that is strong, that is ready,” but King said the system has limitations. A COVID-19 outbreak may put pressure on the system, which could easily become overwhelmed.

Read more: 8 new coronavirus cases reported in N.S., largest single-day increase since May

For the next two weeks, King said he will be monitoring the situation and then decide if this break needs to be extended.

In a Monday morning statement, the Nova Scotia government said the Atlantic premiers have discussed “the need for extra caution on non-essential travel in the region.”

“Some provinces may take additional measures,” the statement read.

The Atlantic bubble began in July, and this is the first time that a member has backed out.

More to come.

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