New Brunswick has declared a state of emergency as a result of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
Premier Blaine Higgs announced the decision at a press conference on Thursday, saying it was necessary to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19.
“We only do this to ensure that New Brunswickers follow these rules,” he said.
“If it wasn’t serious, I wouldn’t be doing this.”
Higgs said the decision was made after serious deliberation with the all-party committee on coronavirus.
The premier said all retail outlets except grocery stores, pharmacies, NB Liquor, Cannabis NB, hardware stores and vehicle garages will be ordered to close.
Restaurants will be restricted to takeout service, while bars must close.
The premier said anyone who is told to self-isolate by a medical professional must comply by law under the province’s Emergency Measures Act.
Higgs asked that people only leave their houses for groceries or other essentials.
“Before, this was a recommendation,” Higgs said. “Today, it’s a requirement,”
Part of the declaration will prevent landlords from evicting tenants due to failure to pay rent until at least May 31.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said she endorsed the decision by cabinet.
The province did not announce any new cases of COVID-19, but confirmed there are now seven confirmed cases and four presumptive cases.
“Although we have no new cases today, we know there will be more cases of COVID-19,” said Russell.
Higgs said that all provincial licences, registrations, certificates and permits that are valid as of March 16, 2020, will remain valid until May 31, 2020, unless suspended by a court.
“These are unprecedented actions but these are necessary as we are in unprecedented times,” said Higgs.
“This will provide us with the tools we need to ensure the safety of New Brunswickers.”
Both Higgs and Russel have continued to push New Brunswickers to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously.
“It is up to us to take actions that will slow the spread of the virus, and give our doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals the best chance to cope with its impact,” Russell said on Wednesday.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 can be stressful for people and communities. It is natural to feel distress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a stressful situation.”
Higgs was even more forceful, saying people should stay home whenever possible.
“I cannot stress that enough… No play dates; no sleepovers; family visits only when required” said Higgs.
With files from Global News’ Sarah Ritchie and Silas BrownView link »