New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is calling on protesters at a blockade at the border with Nova Scotia to let traffic through and not “lose sight” of their objective: to get through the pandemic.
Higgs said he was “disappointed” in the blockade and the fact that commerce and travel were being disrupted.
“This isn’t a time to lose control or lose patience or cause disruption to friends and neighbours,” he said during a briefing on Wednesday.
“I would just encourage the blockade to open up.”
The so-called Atlantic Bubble was set to begin this morning — allowing for travel between the Atlantic provinces.
However, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin announced Tuesday afternoon that people coming from New Brunswick would still be subject to isolation requirements based on vaccination status and testing. Rankin said the move stemmed from New Brunswick’s decision to open up to Canadians with at least one dose of a vaccine last week.
Shortly after Rankin’s announcement, protesters headed to the Trans-Canada Highway to protest and blocked traffic in both directions.
While that initial blockade wrapped up around 9 p.m., a second protest has emerged at the border and continues on Wednesday.
Higgs said New Brunswick’s decision to move into the second phase of its reopening plan, dubbed Path to Green, was based on public health’s recommendation due to the province hitting vaccination targets.
Currently, 76.5 per cent of New Brunswickers over the age of 12 have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are very comfortable with the recommendations of public health,” Higgs said. “I’ve never been more confident in our path forward.”
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell told the briefing that the province “did not act in haste or without due consideration” for the risk of COVID-19.
“The steps we have taken are based on science and grounded on evidence,” she said, adding that there is an “acceptable level of risk” that the province is taking on.
“Are we in a risk-free environment? Absolutely not,” she said.
“COVID-19 is still with us and will still be with us for time to come.”
Both Higgs and Russell said that vaccination is key, and continue to encourage New Brunswickers to get their second dose. Russell stressed that the two mRNA vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — are interchangeable and that people should get the vaccine that’s available.
Meanwhile, New Brunswick is reporting one new case of COVID-19 Wednesday, involving a person in their 90s in the Bathurst region who was a contact of a previous case.
Nova Scotia reported no new cases.
The Atlantic premiers are scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon, and the issue of the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border will be top of the agenda.
Higgs said he is optimistic the premiers will be able to hammer out a compromise.
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