New Brunswick announced Thursday that the province will move into the green phase in three steps starting June 7 as COVID-19 cases continue to decline.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the plan includes three phases to slowly loosen restrictions, with target dates based on anticipated vaccination rates and low numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The first phase is expected to come into effect on as long as at least 75 per cent of New Brunswickers 12 and older have received their first dose of a vaccine; hospitalizations remain low; and all health zones remain at the Yellow alert level.
This would then lead to a number of changes, including no self-isolation or testing required for those travelling within Atlantic Canada, with the exception of Nova Scotia. Travel registration will still be required.
More changes include the following:
- Compassionate travel will be permitted with isolation and testing requirements in place.
- Cross border commuters and truck drivers will no longer be subject to testing and isolation requirements.
- Other workers, including rotational workers, travelling outside of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Avignon and Témiscouata will be required to isolate and take a COVID-19 test between days five and seven before they can discontinue isolation, unless they have an existing work-isolation plan.
- Contact with all family and friends will be permitted and restrictions will be loosened for indoor and outdoor gatherings.
- Organized sporting activities will be permitted, but restricted to teams based in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Avignon and Témiscouata.
- Faith gatherings can take place with a maximum 50 per cent venue capacity and with the choir at least four metres from the congregation.
The second phase is expected to come into effect on July 1. Shephard said if 75 per cent of residents have one dose of the vaccine and 20 per cent over 60 have two doses, then Nova Scotia will be able to join the other Atlantic provinces in the bubble.
There are also modified requirements for those coming from Maine, which will be released soon, she said.
In this phase, the guidelines will include the following:
- Travel registration will no longer be required for those in the Atlantic provinces, including Nova Scotia, or in Avignon and Témiscouata.
- Canadian travellers, as well as travellers from Maine, who have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, will be permitted into the province without needing to isolate.
- Canadian travellers, as well as travellers from Maine, who have not been vaccinated will be permitted to enter the province but will be subject to testing and isolation requirements.
- Businesses including restaurants, gyms and salons will be permitted to operate at regular capacity as long as they maintain a contact list of clients.
- Games and sporting competitions with teams based outside of Atlantic Canada will be permitted, subject to travel requirements.
- Beginning July 1, additional health and safety guidelines developed to respond to the pandemic will be relaxed for early learning and child-care facilities, with a full return to normal operations anticipated by Aug. 1. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will contact operators in the coming weeks to provide more information and to organize question and answer sessions.
The third phase is expected to come into effect on New Brunswick Day, Aug. 2, as long as 75 per cent of New Brunswickers 12 and older have received their second dose of a vaccine. At this time the province will move to the Green level, the mandatory order will end and all restrictions will be lifted.
“Releasing this plan doesn’t put us at the finishing line … it is a message of hope,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health.
Russell announced nine new cases of COVID-19. This includes one travel-related case of a New Brunswicker who is isolating outside the province.
There are three cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region). Two of them are contacts of previously confirmed cases and the other case is related to travel.
Five other cases are in Zone 3 (Fredericton region). Four of them are contacts of a previously confirmed case. One case is related to travel and the individual is out of province.
The one case in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) is a case is under investigation.
The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 2,172. Since Wednesday, 10 people have recovered for a total of 1,995 recoveries.
There have been 43 deaths, and the number of active cases is 137. Eight patients are hospitalized in total. Six patients are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including two in intensive care.
Two patients are hospitalized out of province with one in an intensive care unit. On Wednesday, 1,768 tests were conducted for a total of 329,398.
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