New Brunswick has officially entered the second phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan and will allow a large number of businesses to open, provided they follow public health rules.
Offices, retail stores and restaurants will be permitted to open, as will some cultural institutions like libraries, galleries and museums.
Daycares regulated by the Department of Education will be allowed to open on May 19 while non-regulated daycares are allowed to open as of Friday
The “orange” phase will begin immediately, but all businesses will have to craft operational plans that detail how social distancing can be observed, as well as how those who are symptomatic or have travelled outside of the province within the last 14 days will be screened and kept out of their premises before they are able to open.
“Businesses can open effective immediately, but each of them must decide when they are ready to open,” Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday.
“Some have been preparing for this moment and will be able to open right away. Others will need more time.”
Masks will be required to be worn in public whenever physical distancing is not possible, with exemptions for children under two and anyone with a medical condition that makes them unable to wear one.
That requirement could apply to any public business, such as grocery stores, that feels it cannot maintain physical distancing.
Elective surgeries will also resume in the province’s hospitals but will begin with the most urgent cases.
Regulated health-care providers like dentists will also be able to resume operations but will have to follow special protocols.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the changes are the result of New Brunswickers following the guidelines, and if the curve remains flat, more restrictions will be lifted in a few weeks.
“Please continue to limit close contact to those within your two-household bubble. Let us keep working together to build on the success we have achieved,” said Russell.
The two-family bubble system will remain, but gatherings of 10 or under will now be allowed, provided they take place outdoors and people follow physical-distancing protocols.
Religious services like weddings and funerals will be permitted inside with 10 or fewer people as long as physical distancing is practised.
Businesses that are not able to ensure physical distancing will be allowed to open but will have to follow stricter controls which could include temperature checks, physical barriers and face coverings.
Campgrounds and ATV trails will also be able to open as part of phase 2.
Parks Canada issued a statement Friday, noting that national parks in the province will remain closed.
The reopening was welcomed by Krista Ross, CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s not going to be as simple as turning on the light switch and saying we’re open for business. Businesses are going to have to have some preparations in place,” she said.
Ross says it’s important now for people to support their local businesses.
“I have seen an outpouring of support from people who want to shop local, wanting to support local restaurants, wanting to shop at local shops. They understand this is a priority right now,” she said.
No new cases announced on Friday
New Brunswick did not announce any new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
The province’s total number of confirmed cases stands at 120, with 118 people having recovered from the disease.
None of the active cases are in hospital and no deaths have been recorded in New Brunswick.
With files from The Canadian Press
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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.
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