Soon after the four Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions within the region early today, heavy cross-border traffic was reported across the Maritimes.
Residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.
Video footage from the Confederation Bridge showed a steady stream of vehicles heading to the Island after midnight when the restrictions were lifted.
In the morning, photos shared on social media show P.E.I. Premier Dennis King greeting travellers at the toll booths on the P.E.I. side of the bridge, where tourists were also being offered potato bags holding a selection of Island products.
And images taken at the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick show long lines of cars, trucks and recreational vehicles.
The lineup to get into Nova Scotia at 8 a.m. was holding up traffic for about 15 minutes, but once at the front of the line the screening process took less than a minute to complete.
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Meanwhile, the lineup for those heading from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick was much longer, stretching for several kilometres.
The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.
Some residents have criticized the so-called “Atlantic bubble” over fears the novel coronavirus could re-emerge in the region, but health officials are encouraging people to trust the science behind the decision and keep following health measures.
Marine Atlantic, which operates the ferry between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, says it’s received 3,000 bookings since the plan was announced.
The company says it will gradually increase passenger capacity over several weeks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020.
© 2020 The Canadian Press