Business owners ready for return to orange in Saint John, Fredericton zones

Click to play video: 'Saint John and Fredericton residents look forward to orange phase' Saint John and Fredericton residents look forward to orange phase
Residents in the Saint John and Fredericton regions are looking forward to a return to the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery in just a couple hours, perhaps none more than business owners. – Jan 26, 2021

With New Brunswick’s Saint John and Fredericton regions moving back into the province’s orange level of COVID-19 recovery at 11:59 Tuesday night, business owners are preparing to alter their practices once again.

Emily Saab and KC Wilcox, who have owned and operated a shop in Uptown Saint John for a little over two years, welcome the change.

Read more: New Brunswick reports 10 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday

Named Visitors, the store’s been notably lacking in them for the past few days – as they chose to close temporarily when the region reverted to red.

Non-essential stores like theirs – which sells second-hand clothes, neat knickknacks and art – are not required to close under the province’s recently revised red guidelines.

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Saab and Wilcox chose to take a few days to come up with a plan.

“We decided that was the best course of action,” Wilcox says, “to assess what our resources are and what we can do in order to keep running the store safely.”

Now, the day they’ve reopened with a plan, it’s become something of a moot point as restrictions are loosened once again.

Read more: ‘Old orange is the new red’ — N.B. businesses feeling impacts of COVID-19 restrictions

It was just six days after announcing that public health zones 1, 2 and 3 would move to red that the province’s top doctor announced 2 and 3 were clear to go back.

“You will recall we discussed moving the zones quickly into red to get ahead of the risks,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said at Monday’s COVID-19 briefing.

“Part of that risk was the risk of the unknown.”

She says in the days since, Public Health staff have been able to quickly and thoroughly conduct contact tracing with the help of residents – theoretically sending all those exposed to the virus into self-isolation.

“But be aware we will continue to monitor very closely as the incubation period is 14 days.”

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Visitors has been offering curbside pickup and delivery for online orders while closed. Travis Fortnum / Global News

Visitors has been serving customers online through the phases, offering curbside pickup or local delivery for a $5 fee – lessons learned through sudden and strict restrictions put in place upon the pandemic’s arrival last year.

“Things changed pretty drastically in the beginning,” says Saab.

“We really had to pivot and turn our business into an online business.”

Now they’re letting shoppers back in on scaled-back hours introduced in the summer and online shoppers 24/7.

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