Border communities call for a regional approach to COVID-19 regulations

With constant changes being made to COVID-19 regulations across the Maritimes, local officials in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are hoping their provincial governments will apply the same restrictions.

David Kogon, the mayor of Amherst, N.S., believes that having the same border and COVID-19 restrictions for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would be beneficial to their communities.

"The difference in approach from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia at times is confusing for our local groups on both sides of the border," said Kogon.

"One common approach by both provinces I think would help us out here, and this is simply something we've asked the governments to consider."

Though both provinces are currently tackling the fourth wave, each has taken a different approach to how they handle border restrictions.

Anthony Maddalena, the owner of the Bagtown Brewing Company in Sackville N.B.  Says he's had different experiences while crossing over the border.

"I'm from Halifax originally so I've gone down there to pick up supplies or to see family," said Maddalena. "Whether I've had to fill out the form for going, or pulling up and being asked completely different questions, with varying levels of seriousness behind it."

Though he found when there were no border restrictions this summer for those entering New Brunswick, the business did improve.

On Monday, Nova Scotia plans to enter Phase 5 of reopening which means while restrictions will be lifted, others will be maintained including mandatory masking in indoor public places. Physical distancing and gathering limits for events hosted by a recognized business or organization will be lifted.

Nova Scotia will join New Brunswick next week with implementing proof of full vaccination for non-essential events and businesses.

While New Brunswick remains in a state of emergency due to a high COVID-19 case count, the province is requiring anyone who wants to cross the border, to register first.

The mayor of Sackville, Shawn Mesheau says the changes to border restrictions have been confusing for some people.

"We have folks in both communities that go back and forth between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on a daily basis so it's more so helping kind of de-cloud that type of situation and make it easier for folks."

Earlier this week at the council of Atlantic premiers meeting, premier Blaine Higgs spoke with neighbouring officials about how each province can work closer together when dealing with COVID-19.

In a statement, Premier Higgs said, "We will continue to look at ways to collaborate and make it easier for those traveling to the region while recognizing each province's unique challenges when it comes to dealing with the virus."