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N.B. could move to modified yellow phase if COVID-19 cases continue to fall

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: New Brunswick plans to move province to new yellow alert level' Coronavirus: New Brunswick plans to move province to new yellow alert level
New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said on Friday that the province should be ready to move into a more "controlled" yellow alert level on March 7th from the current orange alert level, thanks to a positive trajectory with the province's coronavirus case count – Feb 26, 2021

New Brunswick officials say all of the province’s health zones could move to a modified yellow phase of the province’s COVID-19 response plan by March 8 if the province continues on the path of fewer COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said New Brunswick is showing good signs with no new COVID-19 outbreaks, fewer cases and fewer hospitalizations over the past week.

Health officials are continuing to monitor the situation but Russell said that if the trend continues the province’s health zones could move to the yellow phase by next month.

However, she stressed that the yellow phase will have harsher restrictions when compared to the yellow phases that the province had permitted before.

Russell also announced that rules in the orange phase are being loosened as of Friday at midnight with the aim of allowing intra-provincial travel between zones.

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Click to play video: 'NB premier concerned about impact of the approaching march break' NB premier concerned about impact of the approaching march break
NB premier concerned about impact of the approaching march break – Feb 26, 2021

Loosened orange phase

According to the guidelines posted on New Brunswick’s website, the loosened orange phase will now allow members of a household’s Steady10 contacts to be from other zones that are in the same alert level.

Travel between zones to see your Steady10 contacts will be permitted.

Travel between orange zones will also now be permitted.

Read more: New Brunswick reports single COVID-19 case Thursday

New Brunswick also says that compassionate exemptions for funeral attendance will be permitted for people coming from outside the province. Individuals must apply through New Brunswick’s travel registration program.

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Under those compassionate exemptions, individuals must isolate for five days ahead of the funeral. They must get tested on day five and receive a negative test in order to attend the funeral.

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Visitors will be allowed in hospitals but only under each regional health authority’s policy.

New yellow phase

The new yellow phase will be more restrictive than the ones experienced by the province before the current orange phase.

Under this phase, the household bubble will be expanded to a group of 15 people which will be referred to as a group of Steady15.

The individuals in the group may socialize together, including going to restaurants.

The Steady15 can include people from other zones who are in the same alert level. Travel between zones to see contacts in the Steady15 is allowed.

Read more: N.B. Coalition for Seniors rep has ‘mixed feelings’ about new nursing home announcement

Masks must be worn in public spaces and at unofficial indoor gatherings in New Brunswick.

Informal indoor gatherings must be limited to a household and their Steady15. Gatherings are informal if it is not hosted by a business or organization in compliance with a formal COVID-19 operational plan.

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Formal gatherings will be limited based on the capacity of the facility that would allow physical distancing of all people who are not members of the same household or their Steady15.

It can be no more than 50 per cent of the facility’s capacity.

All types of businesses and activities are allowed to operate under a COVID-19 operational plan. Records must be kept for seated venues in order to assist in any possible contact tracing efforts.

The province is only recommending necessary travel between zones at a different alert level.

Occupancy of any facility must be based on a maximum of 50 per cent while maintaining physical distancing between people who are not members of the same household or their Steady15.

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick civil servants in hot seat over ambulance response times' New Brunswick civil servants in hot seat over ambulance response times
New Brunswick civil servants in hot seat over ambulance response times – Feb 24, 2021

Premier Blaine Higgs urged caution for those thinking of throwing caution to the wind.

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Both Higgs and Russell said that should the province see new evidence of community spread officials will take “decisive” action and not hesitate to implement new restrictive measures.

1 new case reported Friday

New Brunswick health officials reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday.

The case is located in the Moncton zone and is an individual between the ages of 20 and 29.

There are now 41 active cases in New Brunswick which is far below the height of the pandemic in the province earlier this year.

At its peak on Jan. 25, 2021, there were 348 active cases of COVID-19.

There is one person in hospital. That individual is in intensive care.

To date, there have been 1,428 cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, of which 1,360 people are considered to have recovered.

READ MORE: New Brunswick’s auditor general warns of crisis in nursing home sector

Twenty-six people have died as a result of the virus.

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All zones in the province remain in the orange level of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 response plan.

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