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Nova Scotia to open provincial boundary with Newfoundland and Labrador on Wednesday

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is reopening its boundary with Newfoundland and Labrador and monitoring a COVID-19 outbreak in New Brunswick that could force health officials to once again restrict travel for residents of that province. Beginning 8 a.m.
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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is reopening its boundary with Newfoundland and Labrador and monitoring a COVID-19 outbreak in New Brunswick that could force health officials to once again restrict travel for residents of that province.

Beginning 8 a.m. Wednesday, travellers from Newfoundland and Labrador to Nova Scotia will not have to isolate for two weeks and Nova Scotians returning from that province won't have to isolate either, Premier Iain Rankin said Tuesday.

"We're confident that the low case numbers make it possible for us to remove this measure," Rankin told reporters about the isolation order. 

The premier similarly opened his province to New Brunswick travellers last month but said health officials are concerned about a recent rise in cases in the Edmundston, N.B., region and will reverse course if necessary. 

Rankin, however, said the plan to reopen the Atlantic travel bubble by April 19 is still a go if the situation in the region remains stable. "As you know, day to day things change quickly," Rankin said. "We are watching the cases in our neighbouring provinces very closely."

Rankin also announced that malls, retail businesses and fitness facilities could begin operating at full capacity on Wednesday — as long as physical distancing rules are enforced.

Also on Wednesday, the government said sports practices and games, along with arts and culture rehearsals and performances, can be held with a maximum of 75 people. Spectators can attend these events as long as they are not held inside school buildings. 

Meanwhile, chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said the province is taking a second look at its rules for vaccinated rotational workers, who are required to complete two weeks of modified quarantine when they return home.

As things stand, rotational workers are allowed limited outdoor activities but are prohibited from entering indoor public spaces and must be tested three times before finishing quarantine.

Both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island recently allowed vaccinated rotational workers to re-enter their provinces without isolating. Strang said Nova Scotia is expecting further information later this week on whether vaccines limit asymptomatic transmission of the novel coronavirus.

"Because of their regular travel back and forth, there is some substantive risk for bringing COVID into this province," he said of rotational workers. "With the variants that's even more of a concern, but we are looking at what our Atlantic neighbours are doing."

Health officials reported six new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia Tuesday and 36 active cases of the disease. Five of the new cases were identified in the Halifax area: one is related to travel outside the region, three involve close contacts of a previously reported infection, and one case is under investigation.

The sixth new case reported Tuesday is in the province's eastern health zone and involves a contact of a previously reported infection.

Officials said four recovered cases from the Halifax area involved the mutation of the novel coronavirus first identified in the United Kingdom. Strang said there has been no community spread in the province of variants of concern because Nova Scotians have been generally adhering to health orders. 

Still, he said he's "very nervous about the next couple of months."

"We are not going to relax … while we look at how the variant is playing around in other parts of Canada, we need to stay cautious," Strang said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2021. 

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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