The New Brunswick government says it is “strongly considering twinning” with Avignon Regional County Municipality and Témiscouata Regional County Municipality in Quebec.
Twinning would mean people from those bordering regions wouldn’t be required to self-isolate upon entering the province.
Several municipal officials near the New Brunswick-Quebec border have lobbied for this move, and it could become a reality “in the coming days,” according to a news release from N.B. public health officials.
“The Department of Health is currently assembling data to determine the best way to move forward with this proposed change, including the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the regional municipalities, public health advice, border control measures and epidemiological information,” the statement says.
“Departmental staff will present recommendations to the all party-cabinet COVID-19 committee and cabinet next week.”
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Restigouche Regional Service Commission has called for a regional “bubble” for residents living in Campbellton, on the Listuguj First Nation and in the community of Pointe-à-la-Croix.
Many people along the Restigouche River travel across the J.C. Van Horne bridge for groceries, medical appointments, and other essential services.
“It’s good progress,” says Listuguj First Nation Chief Darcy Gray. “It shows that the lobby efforts and the letters sent, the meetings, the calls, are being heard and listened to and considered.”
Gray says two potential dates were presented to him by Premier Blaine Higgs, over a week ago, as target dates to ease restrictions: July 17 and August 1.
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Brad Mann, chair of the Restigouche Regional Service Commission, says he’s encouraged by the announcement.
“I do believe from the communications we’ve had lately that we should see a decision on this as late as the end of next week, maybe even Wednesday,” Mann says.
“Very happy, very pleased that we’re moving forward.”
The service commission, which has been in discussions with the New Brunswick government, has suggested keeping track of visitors by postal code on licenses, Mann says.
Meanwhile, at the other New Brunswick-Quebec border, Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard says they have also been calling for part of Quebec to be allowed to visit.
“Being close to the Témiscouata region is very important for Edmundston,” Simard says. “We have a lot of family ties, a lot of people who are working on both sides, but people who like to gather with their families.”
“There is such a sense of community between the Campbellton region and our neighbours across the Restigouche River, and between Témiscouata and Edmundston,” Premier Blaine Higgs said in the news release. “We are exploring whether it is feasible to ease our border restrictions to reunite these communities, while still keeping New Brunswick residents safe.”
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