December will see individuals from outside of the Atlantic Bubble travelling home to be with their families for the holidays. This presents a risk to students, as well as other travellers, and requires consideration to be taken to ensure that there is not a substantial outbreak due to holiday travel.
In past years, the holiday season would see students travelling home to spend time with their loved ones. This year, students must consider what is more important, seeing their loved ones or risking exposure to the coronavirus.
UNB students are particularly vulnerable, as many airlines out of the only airport in Fredericton have limited flights, increasing the number of stopovers that travellers have on their journeys home. This increases the potential for exposure as the stopovers can be in airports that are not located in the Atlantic Bubble.
Isabella Gallant, a fourth-year Psychology student in the Faculty of Science, is from Summerside, PEI and often travels home to see her family. She is retaining her plans to travel home during the holidays, as PEI is within the Atlantic Bubble, and she is able to maintain social distancing guidelines by driving with her roommate who is also from Summerside.
“I am very fortunate and privileged that I regularly only travel places within the Atlantic bubble, and I was able to travel freely due to having proper documentation in both provinces that I reside in,” explained Gallant.
She and her family have discussed the possibility of restrictions changing, and her being unable to return home. While this would put a damper on her holiday plans, Gallant believes that she would try to make the best of any scenario.
Those in the Atlantic bubble fear what will result from individuals from outside the bubble returning home. Halifax Stanfield International Airport is the stopover location for many flights coming into the Atlantic Bubble, a concerning location as Nova Scotia is currently experiencing higher numbers of cases in what is being called the second wave.
“I want you to be able to look back at the pandemic and say that you contributed, that you got it right and did your part,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer, as he encouraged the public to mask up and fight community spread of the virus in a news conference on November 14. “We need to up our game.”
Khanh Do, a third-year Business and Political Science student at St. Thomas University, is originally from Vietnam. Due to the cost of international flights, she has not travelled home in the three years since she arrived in Canada.
In the past, Do would travel to the United States to visit family members for the holidays, or she and her friends would plan a trip to a bigger city, like Toronto or Montreal. This year, she and her friends plan to travel to Halifax.
“I made sure that our destination is within the Atlantic Bubble so we don’t have to quarantine for two weeks,” Do explained, grateful for the presence of family at this time. “My mom is in town, so it’s not as bad as the previous years.”
UNB students travelling outside the Atlantic bubble must ensure that they quarantine when they return to New Brunswick and, if they have in-person classes in the winter, they must allow adequate time to do so.
The winter term start date has been adjusted to accommodate those who are quarantining, with classes resuming on January 11. Additionally, all classes, whether online or in-person, will be online for the first week of the semester to ensure attendance.
Reid Hall, a fourth-year Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering student at UNB, is from Renfrew, Ontario. Normally he would fly home for the holidays after his last exam, spending the holidays with his family and returning to UNB before the start of the winter semester.
This year, Hall doesn’t see travelling home as a feasible option due to the mandatory two-week quarantine that he will have to complete when returning to New Brunswick.
“It was a lot easier to self isolate in the summer, as I was able to return a little bit earlier before all of my roommates were back, but I won’t have that option this time,” Hall said, explaining that he will likely be staying in New Brunswick this year. “It looks like I will be spending it here with my friends, and hopefully we get a nice bit of snow to get some laps in at Crabbe Mountain and enjoy some beverages.”