Atlantic provinces say they won't let Quebecers in, while Arruda encourages staycations

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Were you planning a vacation in the Magdalen Islands this summer? Don’t expect it to be easy.

The Atlantic provinces don’t intend to let in Quebecers who want to arrive by road or ferry, fearing that after having been relatively spared by COVID-19, travelers in transit will bring the virus to them. 

The Legault government has said negotiations are continuing with New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Quebec travelers wishing to go to the Magdelen Islands must cross New Brunswick, take the Confederation Bridge to PEI, and finally take a ferry from Souris to Cap-aux-Meules.

“(The leaders of the Atlantic provinces) are being very cautious—they have no case (of coronavirus), and they are not open to being invaded by Quebec tourists during the summer season,” said Nicky Cayer, a spokesperson for the Minister of Canadian Relations, Sonia LeBel.

“We cannot force them to let our tourists pass through their territory.”

The government is trying to find solutions, she added.

Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx also said on Wednesday that the number of flights to the Islands will soon increase.

Currently Madelinots who want to leave the archipelago or return home can do so by bringing a form to police checkpoints set up in the Atlantic provinces.

The province also called on Montrealers to be patient. On Wednesday, it announced that Quebec’s tourism industry will be restarted beginning June 1, but public health authorities are encouraging vacationers to do local or hyperlocal tourism, keeping to their own regions.

This, of course, greatly limits Montrealers, who wouldn’t easily be able to book a cabin or a campground in another region.

On Thursday, at the province’s daily pandemic-related press conference, provincial public health director Horacio Arruda was asked to clarify the province’s position.

He said he doesn’t want a massive influx of vacationers from the city to avoid “seeding” the coronavirus in regions that have so far been spared.

Before giving carte blanche to Montrealers to get out of their region, he also said, he wants to see the epidemiological results of the economy’s reopening.

“In Montreal, we are watching what is happening,” he said. “I prefer to err on the side of caution: I know that my directions are not followed 100 per cent.

The province, he said, “will get back to you in about two weeks. When we will have seen the effect of deconfinement in the metropolitan area, I will feel more secure.”


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