The four Atlantic provinces will once again allow unrestricted travel inside a regional bubble on April 19 with plans to possibly open up to travel into the region from the rest of Canada in the summer. 

In a joint statement the four Atlantic premiers said the travel bubble was re-established to help the regional economy and make it easier for families to visit relatives.

However, the announcement is little consolation for students from the region who live elsewhere.

The premiers say they are reluctant to open up the four provinces to the rest of Canada until at the earliest in July. 

Hannah Rivkin, a second-year Masters of Journalism student at Carleton University from Newfoundland, says it’s been hard to not see her family with the travel restrictions in place. 

“I haven’t seen my parents since — not this Christmas, but last Christmas,” she said. “I have this new little creature in my life that I would like to share with them.”

Travel restrictions hard on families

During the first year of the pandemic, Rivkin got a puppy to join her family’s big dog pack, and she said getting her parents to meet her new dog Monk is one of those important things she hasn’t been able to do because of the restrictions.

“If it does open … as much as I really worry about my parents, I’m also really going to want to go home,” Rivkin said.

Hannah Rivkin wants to be able to introduce her dog Monk to her parents in Newfoundland but travel restrictions make that difficult. Here she is walking Monk near the Ottawa River, a view that reminds her of home. [Photo @ Stéphane Charpentier]

“I think if anything, COVID has made us realize how important family is,” Rivkin said. 

Destination Canada, a Crown corporation that helps build and support Canadian tourism, says in a recent study that the Atlantic tourism industry has lost more than $995 million this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We do expect this summer to have more Canadian travel than we did last year,” said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King on Thursday. 

There is hope for the industry in the study with 80 per cent of Canadians surveyed saying they are interested in travelling as soon as restrictions are lifted. Market influencers have been encouraging Canadians to travel domestically to help rebuild the tourism economy at home. 

Not surprisingly, the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce overwhelmingly supports the return of loosened restrictions. “This is good news,” Brandon Ellis, the senior manager of policy, told Global News. “It’s good timing which provides a level of certainty leading into this 2021 tourism season.”