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How New Brunswick’s plan to recover from COVID-19 works

Click to play video 'New Brunswick puts Edmundston region into full lockdown' New Brunswick puts Edmundston region into full lockdown
New Brunswick health officials announced they will move the Edmundston area to a full lockdown on Saturday night. Travis Fortnum brings us the latest – Jan 22, 2021

This article is up to date as of Jan. 25, 2021. 

New Brunswick was the first province in Canada to begin relaxing the restrictions it put in place to control the spread of the first wave of the novel coronavirus.

But as time has passed and the understanding of COVID-19 has evolved so has the province’s response.

New Brunswick COVID-19 recovery is guided by a series of colour-coded public health alert levels — red, orange, yellow and green — as well as a final lockdown stage.

Click to play video 'Puppy giving people a reason to smile amid COVID-19' Puppy giving people a reason to smile amid COVID-19
Puppy giving people a reason to smile amid COVID-19 – Jan 22, 2021

Throughout all stages, the province is counting on physical distancing, physical barriers, handwashing and face masks to be part of the new normal.

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The phased approach will also allow the province to re-implement restrictions if needed.

With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of how the levels will work:

Lockdown

New Brunswick announced its most serious COVID-19 response on Jan. 22, 2021, in response to the skyrocketing cases in the province — the provincial government calls it a lockdown.

This phase lasts for a minimum of 14 days.

Under this phase, there is no unnecessary travel in and out of zones and within zones. However, New Brunswickers can continue to travel within the province for work, post-secondary education, custody arrangements and medical appointments.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public places and are required in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing of two metres cannot be maintained.

Individuals must stay within their single household bubble, which includes the people they live with, although it can include a family member who needs support from someone within a household, a caregiver or one other person who needs support.

In addition, a single-family household bubble can be extended to include care for children from another household bubble for the purposes of informal daycare or online education. It must be the same household bubble for the entirety of the lockdown.

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Click to play video 'New Brunswick puts Edmundston region into full lockdown' New Brunswick puts Edmundston region into full lockdown
New Brunswick puts Edmundston region into full lockdown – Jan 22, 2021

In the lockdown phase, schools, colleges, universities and private schools must be closed to students. However, those facilities may admit employees for online or remote delivery of classes.

No informal indoor gatherings are permitted, except within the single household. The province expects individuals to remain at home except for necessary reasons such as health services, care, childcare, child custody arrangements and work or post-secondary education.

Regulated health professionals are allowed to keep their businesses open as long as they have an operational plan outlining enhanced measures.

Non-regulated health-care workers are to keep their businesses closed.

Restaurants are limited to drive-thru, takeout and delivery services.

All gyms, fitness centres and swimming pools, public entertainment venues and farmers markets are to remain closed.

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Faith-based venues are to remain closed or operate only virtually. Faith-based organizations are permitted to have four or fewer people plus the celebrant working together on the production of virtual services.

Click to play video 'New Brunswick teacher speaks out over lack of communication over possible COVID-19 exposure' New Brunswick teacher speaks out over lack of communication over possible COVID-19 exposure
New Brunswick teacher speaks out over lack of communication over possible COVID-19 exposure – Jan 22, 2021

Red – Flattening the curve

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The goal in the red level of the COVID-19 response plan is to flatten the curve of the number of cases in the province to contain the virus as quickly as possible.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public places and are required in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing of two metres cannot be maintained.

The province says that essential travel is only recommended in and out of red level zones. However, people can continue to travel within the province for work, school, essential errands and medical appointments.

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Strict physical distancing of two metres is expected during the red phase with frequent hand washing and surface cleaning being necessary.

Non-urgent medical procedures and elective surgeries could be postponed, health officials have said.

READ MORE: Canada coronavirus tracker 

Students will continue to attend school in-person with enhanced health and safety measures, including:

  • Students and staff stay home if they have even one symptom
  • School staff are actively screened for COVID-19 when they report to work each day
  • Schools will be closed for a minimum of three days to allow for contact tracing
  • The school will also become a testing site for school staff.

Under the orange phase, New Brunswickers are restricted to a single household bubble which can be extended to include caregivers, a family member that needs support, one other person who needs support.

Outdoor gatherings are restricted to five people or less with physical distancing.

Physical distancing is required in all other settings. Religious services are restricted to drive-in services only.

Non-urgent medical procedures and elective surgeries are postponed while visitor restrictions in health facilities would be in place during the red phase.

A significant change from previous versions is that unregulated health professionals are now being permitted to operate during the red phase. However, they are only allowed to do so under a COVID-19 operational plan approved by the province.

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They must also actively screen patrons, have enhanced barriers and closed waiting rooms.

Barbers, hair stylists, spas, gyms and fitness facilities are closed in this stage.

Daycares will remain open while K to 12 schools are limited to virtual education only in the province’s red stage.

All food and beverage services will be reduced to drive-thru, take-out and delivery.

Public Transit rules have also been updated to allow for operations to continue as long as physical distancing of 2 metres is followed and masks are used continuously.

Orange – progressively loosening of restrictions

The orange phase in New Brunswick’s plan attempts to balance the reopening of businesses with the prevention of a resurgence in COVID-19 transmission.

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However, the province notes that the orange phase also indicates a “significant risk that COVID-19 is no longer under control in the province.”

Wearing face masks is mandatory in indoor public spaces during the orange phase. Masks are to be worn in outdoor public spaces when physical distancing of two metres cannot be maintained.

Individuals are restricted to a single household bubble which as of Friday, Jan. 29, can now be extended to a set of 10 consistent contacts.

As an example, even though groups are allowed out into restaurants, they may not sit with people from another household bubble.

Outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people or less with physical distancing.

Read more: New Brunswick moves Saint John area to orange phase as 9 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday

The province says that essential travel is only recommended in and out of orange zones. However, people can continue to travel within the province for work, school, essential errands and medical appointments.

Non-urgent medical procedures are permitted during this phase.

Business and other retail services are allowed to open with a COVID-19 operational plan.

Faith venues can operate under an approved COVID-19 operation plan but the province says that in-person services are limited to 50 participants or fewer depending on the size of the facility.

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Unregulated health professionals, barbers, hair stylists and spas may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan. They must actively screen patrons, have enhanced barriers and closed waiting rooms.

Gyms and fitness facilities may also operate under a COVID-19 operation plan although physical distancing of two metres and masks are mandatory for “low-intensity fitness classes” such as yoga, tai chi and stretching.

For high-intensity activities such as spin, aerobics and boot camps, that physical distancing must be extended to three metres.

Entertainment venues such as casinos, bingo halls, arcades and cinemas may operate under a COVID-19 operations plan although occupancy limits are set at 50 patrons or fewer, depending on the size of the venue.

Public Transit rules have also been updated to allow for operations to continue as long as physical distancing of one metre is followed and masks are used continuously.

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Record keeping of patrons is necessary for all seated venues in this phase.

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Yellow – Continued loosening of restrictions

The goal of the yellow phase is to re-open more businesses and activities after the ability to control COVID-19 transmission has been successfully demonstrated.

Face masks are still mandatory in public spaces and unofficial indoor gatherings.

In this phase, informal indoor gatherings of up to 20 people are permitted and close contacts should be limited to a consistent list of family and friends.

Click to play video 'How to practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak' How to practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak
How to practice social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak – Mar 13, 2020

Uncontrolled outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people or fewer as long as physical distancing is in place.

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Officials say that in this phase, physical distancing restrictions would be loosened to allow for households to see close friends and family.

Occupancy limited in controlled indoor and outdoor settings should remain at a level that allows for physical distancing, the province’s guide says, although it does not provide specific figures. However, participants must be recorded in order to facilitate contact tracing.

Spots can continue to play as long as they follow their operational plan.

Faith venues will continue to be open in the yellow phase as long as a physical distancing of at least one metre is maintained and everyone is wearing a mask.

In order for singing to be permitted at a faith venue as long as masks must be worn and two metres of distance must be in place.

New Brunswick’s public transit services can operate at full ridership with the continuous use of a mask.

Green – the new normal

New Brunswick officials say that the green phase will only be implemented after a vaccine for COVID-19 is created and made widely available in the province.

The development of a vaccine for the disease could take between 12 and 18 months.

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In this phase, which remains a proposal at this time, all conditions would be lifted except for the need for face masks which would remain a requirement in public when ill.

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