Checkpoints return, as non-essential travel limited at Labrador and Blanc-Sablon border

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Restrictions to border crossings at the southern border between Labrador and Quebec are returning, after a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 was detected in Blanc-Sablon over the weekend.

No non-essential travel at the border between Blanc-Sablon and L'Anse au Clair will be allowed, the premier's office confirmed Monday.

Checkpoints that were put in place in the early days of the pandemic, but removed on June 25, will be reinstated as of Thursday with 24-hour coverage.

Residents of the Labrador Straits area will be able to cross the border to go to the ferry terminal and airport in Blanc-Sablon without needing to present an exemption from the Newfoundland and Labrador government.

The province will also strengthen border controls to "effectively eliminate the free flow of traffic between residents of L'Anse-au-Clair and Blanc-Sablon," the premier's office said in a statement, but added those details haven't yet been decided.

Cartwight–L'Anse au Clair MHA Lisa Dempster said she thinks the decision will offer some assurance to people in her district.

"If somebody lives in Blanc-Sablon … and they go out, let's say, to Montreal or Quebec City — one of the hot spots — they come back because it's the same province, they are not required to self-isolate," said Dempster.

"So out of an abundance of caution, public health officials worked closely with Dr. Fitzgerald and the premier's office and this was implemented, and I'm quite pleased about it. I believe I think Minister [John] Haggie used to say in the earliest days of this … we'll never know if we were too cautious, but we'll certainly see the impacts if we weren't."

Meanwhile, in Labrador West, people can expect the restrictions to remain unchanged between Fermont, Que., and the Lab West region.

Lee Pitts
Lee Pitts

The 24-hour enforcement presence at the border will remain in place, with two fishery and forestry officers in place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and overnight presence of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Rules that allow residents of Fermont to cross the border, but not stay overnight, without having to isolate will remain in place.

Labrador West MHA Jordan Brown said there was "a lot of havoc and chaos" in his district following Monday's COVID-19 briefing, when he said Premier Andrew Furey misspoke about the need for self-isolation between Fermont and Labrador West.

But things were clarified later in the day, when it was confirmed things would remain as they are.

"We're going back between Fermont and Lab West as normal, apparently, so that won't make any changes there," Brown said.

Ferry rules

Residents of Quebec travelling by ferry across the Strait of Bell Isle to Newfoundland can only do so if they have an exemption letter allowing for travel.

Labrador residents who travel to Newfoundland on that ferry are not required to isolate, since they are travelling within their province. However, when they cross the border into Quebec on their way to the ferry terminal, they must remain in their vehicles until they board the ferry.

The same rule is in place for people travelling across the Strait of Belle Isle from Newfoundland: Travellers are required to stay in their vehicles from departure, until they cross the border into Labrador.

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