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New Brunswick, P.E.I. talking about border measures as legislature set to resume

New Brunswick health officials are expected to provide an update on Friday regarding the number of COVID-19 cases in the province, as well as discuss the government's ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.

New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have had discussions about opening the border between the two provinces, Premier Blaine Higgs said on Friday, but an agreement is far from certain.

The two provinces are moving through their respective COVID-19 recovery plans as the increase in cases in both jurisdictions has stalled.

READ MORE: N.B. to launch new website for 600 positions left vacant without temporary foreign workers

As of Friday, New Brunswick has not had a new case of COVID-19 for 13 days and only two cases remain active.

In P.E.I. only three of 27 confirmed cases remain active.

“Premier [Dennis] King and I have discussed in terms of our current situation in relation to our provinces and COVID,” said Higgs.
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“Is there a possibility coming down the road in the summer in July, August time frame? I guess there’s always a possibility.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: N.B. reports no new cases for 13th consecutive day, still searching for additional cases through testing' Coronavirus outbreak: N.B. reports no new cases for 13th consecutive day, still searching for additional cases through testing
Coronavirus outbreak: N.B. reports no new cases for 13th consecutive day, still searching for additional cases through testing – May 1, 2020

The province announced on Thursday that it would create a website to connect students and unemployed workers with open jobs that were slated to be filled by temporary foreign workers.

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Premier Blaine Higgs announced the decision to ban season workers from the province on Tuesday, which has been met by criticism from producers in the agriculture and seafood industry along with some opposition parties.

“But we are very cautious about our borders and we will remain so and I guess if we saw at this stage any relaxation in that regard it would likely be in P.E.I.’s direction,” Higgs said on Friday.

Click to play video: 'N.B. restaurants, bars optimistic for summer season' N.B. restaurants, bars optimistic for summer season
N.B. restaurants, bars optimistic for summer season – Apr 30, 2020

For now, border restrictions remain in place and officials are analyzing the traffic that is being allowed through for essential purposes.

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“As we move forward eventually we would be able to really fine-tune that data and understand how it can inform decisions and next steps,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

“But as of right now we are not planning to change any of those border measures, but definitely as things evolve that could change.”

The legislature will be returning on May 26, but what form it will take is still to be determined.

READ MORE: N.B. political consensus fractures over temporary foreign workers amid push to recall legislature

Higgs said discussions are ongoing, but the goal is something more resembling a typical sitting than the last two which featured the accelerated passage of legislature through unanimous consent of all MLAs.

“At this point, I do believe that what’s being suggested by the opposition parties and LAC is how we would put together a legislative process that would be typical to what we’ve seen in the past. That scenario would include a question period and going through normal routine proceedings,” Higgs said.

“We’ll be working together with our colleagues to determine what the new normal looks like in the legislature.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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