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COVID-19: 14 New Brunswick MLAs potentially exposed, prompting first hybrid-virtual sitting

Click to play video: 'New Brunwick MLAs may have been exposed to COVID-19 during last in-person legislative sitting' New Brunwick MLAs may have been exposed to COVID-19 during last in-person legislative sitting
WATCH: New Brunswick’s legislature will use a hybrid-virtual system this week for the first time. This comes after more than a dozen MLAs were told they may have been exposed to COVID-19 while they were in Fredericton for the last in-person sitting. Travis Fortnum reports. – May 17, 2021

Over a dozen of New Brunswick’s MLAs may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past week.

Thirteen elected members have been advised by the province’s chief medical officer of health to get tested after the hotel they were staying at in Fredericton became a site of potential public exposure, with a fourteenth person implicated by eating at the adjoining restaurant.

This has resulted in the legislature’s first hybrid-virtual regular sitting of the full assembly.

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Liberal Isabelle Thériault tells Global News the group of MLAs took part in a conference call with the chief medical officer of health Sunday night, during which Dr. Jennifer Russell “strongly urged” them to get tested.

New Brunswick doesn’t require those who were at a potential exposure site to self-isolate, though Thériault says she and fellow Liberal Keith Chiasson — the member who only got caught up in this by eating at the restaurant —  have chosen to do so. Two Green members and 10 PCs also have.

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The Hilton Garden Inn and adjoining Pickle Jar Restaurant were listed as potential public exposure sites for a period lasting from Tuesday, May 11 through Sunday.

Thériault says she found out when public health contact-tracers phoned her Sunday afternoon.

She tells Global News she requested her test immediately, securing a slot Monday afternoon.

She’s been one of many MLAs pushing for hybrid sitting options for months now.

“There’s no good reason why we’re not into modernity,” says Thériault.

“We’ve been asking for a year now. The whole planet has adjusted to that COVID situation and works virtually.

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“I mean, I’m looking at Ottawa where the MPs are sitting virtually for many months now and they’re voting like that, it’s going pretty good.”

MLAs approved a special order to allow hybrid-virtual sittings Tuesday, one week before it would be used for the first time.

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