The Edmundston area has been in lockdown for nearly two weeks now — and for the third time since COVID-19 came to New Brunswick over a year ago.
It was almost a month ago the province first moved the region around the northwestern city into the tough Red Level of its COVID-19 recovery plan. The province hopes the circuit breaker move would prevent an outbreak from spiking.
According to the Department of Health, there are currently 100 active cases in Zone 4 alone — nearly 72 per cent of all active cases provincewide.
At a briefing Tuesday afternoon, chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said the outbreak there remains “stubbornly consistent,” with Variants of Concern (VOC) partly to blame for its longevity.
Residents of the region say that compared to previous outbreaks, they and their neighbours are feeling more fearful and more defeated.
“What can we do? We feel pretty powerless,” says Denis Boulet, who lives in the locked-down Haut-Madawaska area 20 minutes west of Edmundston.
“Despite the fact that I can’t talk to anybody face-to-face, I just sort of feel it,” Boulet says.
“The morale’s pretty low.”
He says most residents are following the strict lockdown rules from what he sees on social media.
One video making the rounds online shows law enforcement confronting a number of people gathered within the lockdown area.
Someone in it talks to police for several minutes, claiming everyone at the gathering is within their rights to be there regardless of Public Health regulations.
The individual instead says that the uniformed officers are trespassing on private property.
The officers take the person’s name but leave without a citation issued that the video show.
Those at the gathering applaud as law enforcement retreats.
“This is a minority,” Boulet says while admitting he isn’t privy to everything in the area.
He says local social media isn’t seeing the rallying cry previous lockdowns brought on. No one is banging pots and pans for healthcare workers or challenging each other to support struggling local businesses.
Café owner Louise Fyfe says that while closed again amid the lockdown, the only revenue her business is generating is kind words.
“People are very nice to us and saying, ‘have some courage’ and ‘we’re supporting you’ and all that, but I can’t bring that to the bank,” Fyfe says.
“The bank doesn’t take courage, it takes money.”
When Global News caught up to Fyfe through previous lockdowns, she said she felt inspired to face reinvention amid strict measures.
This time, she’s just hoping her café can survive to see restrictions loosened once more.
“I just want to do everything I can to save my business, really because we’ve worked so hard,” she says.
Having been here before, though, she says hope is a dangerous thing to have.
“That’s what’s getting me really tired. To start again, lose,” Fyfe says.
“I think the hope is the hard part.”
The province has previously said it would reevaluate Thursday whether the lockdown will need to be extended once more.