Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces have agreed to open their borders to each other on July 3, creating a regional pandemic bubble. What are the opportunities for B.C.?
The Atlantic bubble means that travellers within the region will not be required to self-isolate after crossing the borders. Travellers will have show proof of residency with a driver’s licence or health card.
As we know from creating bubble families, picking who you want to bubble up with is tricky -a bit like asking someone to dance. Who is desirable? Are they available? Do they practice safe social intercourse?
For the Atlantic Provinces, it was easy. Not only are they attractive because they form a natural geographic area but also there are no active COVID-19 cases, with the exception of New Brunswick and that was caused by a doctor who was infected upon returning from Quebec. They form a natural regional bubble that’s desirable, available, and safe.
Countries can bubble up with neighbours as well. While not quite bubbles, the European Union has loosened border restrictions this week to 15 countries including Canada but not the U.S. Russia, or Brazil. The loosening includes countries that have controlled the spread of COVID-19.
But while some countries are desirable, they are not available. New Zealand makes an appealing partner because they have largely contained the virus. But they want nothing to do with bubbling after three new travel-related cases were reported.
Canada’s travel and tourism industries want to bring more countries to the dance floor. In an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau in the Globe and Mail, they say 14-day quarantines and travel restrictions are “no longer necessary” and are “out of step with other countries across the globe,”
Trudeau objects, saying that lifting travel restrictions now “would lead to a resurgence that might well force us to go back into lockdown.”
Epidemiologists agree with Trudeau. Lauren Lapointe-Shaw, general internist and clinical epidemiologist says: “Travel is the one segment of the economy that probably has the greatest potential to derail our ability to stay out of lockdown.”
The problem is not just being in a metal tube hurtling through the sky with dozens of other passengers, it’s the dangers that await you on landing. “When people travel, they don’t travel to stay indoors with their close travel companion at their arrival destination,” Dr. Lapointe-Shaw said. “Travel does have an outsized effect on the ability of outbreaks to grow quickly.”
When B.C. is stares across the dance floor at potential partners to bubble with, there are Alberta and Washington State.
B.C.’s relations with Alberta are a bit prickly. Last month, travelers with Alberta plates have received nasty notes and had tires slashed. One Alberta traveler had a note attached to his windshield reading: “F-ck off back to Alberta! Supposed to be not doing non-essential travel.” Soon after, he also noticed a large scratch on the side of his car.
The love with Alberta just isn’t there.
Washington State forms a natural geographic area with B.C. It’s part of Cascadia, a loose association of bioregions along the West Coast. While appealing, Washington is off limits as the U.S. spirals into an every-growing deadly pandemic.
It looks like B.C. will have to sit out this dance.