When Fran Langerfeld goes to buy gas, she makes sure to bring her wallet — and her passport.
That’s because the closest gas station for Campobello Island, N.B., residents is across the border in Maine.
But those once routine international trips now require planning several days in advance.
New Brunswick is asking Islanders to complete a travel registration each time they enter or pass through Maine to access services in St. Stephen, N.B. It’s mandatory even if residents don’t stop during the hour-long drive through the U.S.
“Driving through is certainly becoming a risky situation,” Langerfeld said.
The community has been facing increasingly limited mobility during the U.S. border shutdown. Campobello has no year-round link to mainland New Brunswick, and its seasonal ferry connection to Deer Island, Maine, ends on Dec. 1.
Islanders are partially exempt from the province’s travel restrictions and can enter and drive through Maine to access essentials — such as food and medicine — without self-isolating for 14 days.
The latest change comes as new COVID-19 cases rise in Maine.
Langerfeld owns a motel on the island and has to cross frequently to do banking.
“If you had an appointment, you’d have to be really sure ahead of time that you would get it and get it on time,” she said. “It’s just an added burden and I’m not sure of what good it does.”
Residents upset with communication
Islanders say the Department of Public Safety did little to inform them of the changes.
St. Croix MLA Kathy Bockus represents Campobello and said communication about the travel registry “wasn’t rolled out properly.”
“It’s no wonder Islanders got their backs up,” she said.
“If anybody has COVID fatigue, it’s the people of Campobello.” – St. Croix MLA Kathy Bockus
Bockus said the travel registry was created for contact tracing purposes in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19.
“If anybody has COVID fatigue, it’s the people of Campobello,” she said. “They’re feeling left out, singled out, alone.”
Langerfeld said she found out about it a few days after the announcement.
“It is rather anxiety producing to have to just sit here and wait and wonder from day-to-day what new thing will be announced,” she said.
Province speeding up travel registration approvals
New Brunswick began introducing travel registration in July when the Atlantic bubble started.
Coreen Enos, a spokesperson for Public Safety, said the information is used to better understand how residents travel and will help with contact tracing in the event of outbreaks.
Enos said Islanders need to register for both directions when driving between St. Stephen and Campobello, and can do so online or over the phone.
“We are taking steps to ensure that the residents of Campobello Island who register to travel get rapid responses,” she wrote in an email. “The average turnaround for all travel registrations is one business day; many are approved in minutes but some cases take up to 48 hours to