Open Letter to Premier Rankin Regarding Provincial Re-Opening Plan

June 03/21
Open Letter to Premier Rankin Regarding Provincial Re-Opening Plan

 

June 1, 2021

The Honourable Iain Rankin
Premier of Nova Scotia
Office of the Premier
7th Floor, One Government Place
1700 Granville Street
Halifax, NS  B3J 1X5

Dear Premier Rankin:

We are writing today in response to Nova Scotia’s phased re-opening plan as released last week. With our shared objective of supporting and relaunching our more than 4,000 downtown and main street businesses, we have one key modification to the plan, which would greatly strengthen our recovery:

Set a target re-opening date for phase 4, and have that date be the time that we open our borders to travellers from all Canadian provinces.  

There is a great opportunity at hand. As this letter is being written, Canadians are making summer travel plans collectively worth billions of dollars.  With each day that passes, more of these dollars are being directed to other provinces who have made it clear that these visitors are welcome and appreciated. If we could simply say that in July we too would welcome them in, accommodation bookings would immediately begin to be made. Restaurants would immediately begin receiving reservation requests, retail businesses would again be able to anticipate people along our main streets with money to spend.  Tourism businesses would have a real shot at making a season which would not only sustain them through this coming year but could indeed be the difference in their very survival.

Canadians across all provinces are getting vaccinated at roughly the same rate as we are here in Nova Scotia. All of Canada should be near or at the 75% threshold for single dose vaccinations by July. On the strength of the public health protections provided once this milestone has been achieved, the assessment of many other jurisdictions in Canada is that domestic travel can safely begin.

Phase 4 already states, “Canadian travellers from outside of Atlantic Canada can enter; quarantine requirements may be determined by vaccine status, border testing strategy and epidemiology of other provinces.” We ask that the plan be amended to proactively aim to allow Canadian travellers to enter the province and that quarantine requirements be adjusted/eliminated because we are confident that the epidemiology of other provinces materially matches our own.    

The Atlantic Bubble served us well in 2020 when there was no vaccine and the spread in other provinces may have been exacerbated by weaker restrictions. This summer, when 75% of Canadians will be vaccinated with one dose, needs to look different. Other provinces have found a way. When there is a way, there ought to be a will. We must seize this opportunity before us to actively help downtown and main street business, tourism operators, and others begin to get back to prosperity. The future remains uncertain, and if health conditions change, the plan will also have to change; but given current data and trends, it seems both reasonable and safe to take this step. This is the single biggest improvement to the plan that could be made to help our businesses and economy.

Sincerely,

Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission
Downtown Halifax Business Commission
Downtown Truro Partnership
North End Business Association
Porters Lake Business Association
Spring Garden Area Business Association
Spryfield Business Commission

Cc:

The Hon. Labi Kousoulis, Minister of the Department of Inclusive Economic Growth
The Hon. Zach Churchill, Minister of the Department of Health and Wellness
Scott Farmer, Deputy Minister of the Department of Inclusive Economic Growth
Bernie Miller, Deputy Minister of the Office of Strategy Management
Duff Montgomerie, Deputy Minister of Advanced Labour and Education
Jennifer Church, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Inclusive Economic Growth
Fiona Gibb, Director, Projects, Department of Inclusive and Economic Growth