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COVID-19: N.B. reaches 1st vaccination target, begins to loosen restrictions

Click to play video: 'N.B could open to vaccinated travelers from rest of country by end of week' N.B could open to vaccinated travelers from rest of country by end of week
WATCH: While Phase 1 of New Brunswick’s reopening plan is one week later than expected, Phase 2 is not far behind. That would mean allowing vaccinated travelers from the rest of the country into the province without isolating, and that could happen by the end of the week. Silas Brown has more. – Jun 15, 2021

New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health has announced that the province has hit its 75 per cent first-dose vaccination target.

Dr. Jennifer Russell said on Tuesday 75.1 per cent of New Brunswickers over the age of 12 have now received their first dose of the vaccine.

As a result, New Brunswick can enter Phase 1 of its reopening plan and begin loosening restrictions.

Effective midnight, Premier Blaine Higgs said at a COVID-19 briefing that New Brunswickers will be allowed to have contact with all their families and friends in areas at the yellow level.

READ MORE: COVID-19: N.B. nears its first-dose vaccination target, 2nd dose eligibility expanding

Three out of four Atlantic provinces announced Tuesday morning they will lift border restrictions and open to travel from across the region beginning next week.

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Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador say the June 23 reopening is possible because of steadily declining COVID-19 rates across the region, and New Brunswick is expected to open to all of Atlantic Canada once it enters Phase 2.

New Brunswick is expected to enter Phase 2 on July 1. This phase includes opening up the province to others in Atlantic Canada, and to the rest of the country for people with one dose of the vaccine.

The second phase will come into effect when 20 per cent of New Brunswickers 65 and older have received their second dose.

As of Tuesday, 18 per cent of New Brunswickers 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

“If we can keep doing what we are doing and get the second dose as soon as we can we will be fully green sooner than we have projected a few weeks before. Potentially weeks sooner,” said Higgs.

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.

Russell said she expects case numbers to increase as we open up to the rest of the country.

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Phase 1 in New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, the path toward the Green level of the COVID-19 recovery plan includes three phases to slowly loosen restrictions, with target dates based on anticipated vaccination rates and low numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

In terms of lifting restrictions, Phase 1 includes changes in travel, social gatherings, sports and sporting events and faith gatherings.

Travel: 

  • Opening up, with no isolation or testing required, for those travelling from PEI, NL, Avignon and Témiscouata (Quebec).
  • Maintain requirement for isolating in a designated facility for those travelling from outside PEI, NL, Avignon and Témiscouata (Quebec).
  • Compassionate travel (includes end-of-life, funerals, providing/receiving care, including childcare, not otherwise available) permitted for individuals travelling to NB or returning to NB from outside PEI, NL, Avignon or Témiscouata with isolation and testing required on days 5-7 and release with a negative test.
  • Cross border commuters and truckers will no longer be subject to testing and isolation requirements.
  • Workers (including rotational workers), those moving to NB and travellers coming to NB from outside PEI, NL, Avignon or Témiscouata must isolate with testing on day 5-7. They can be released with negative test unless under an existing work-isolation plan. The whole family isolates unless isolating separately.

Social gatherings:

  • Allow contact with all family and friends in yellow areas.
  • Indoor informal: 20 people or fewer.
  • Indoor formal: 50% capacity with operational plan.
  • Outdoor informal: two metre distancing between groups.
  • Outdoor formal: Maximum capacity possible with distancing and an operational plan

Sports and sporting events: 

  • Organized sporting activity is permitted with operational plan.
  • Games and competitions are restricted to players/teams based in PEI, NL, Avignon or Témiscouata.

Faith Gatherings

  • Open with a COVID-19 operational plan.
  • Maximum 50% venue capacity.
  • Choir must be four metres from the congregation.

All other restrictions will remain in place, including the requirement for travel registration and the use of masks, based on a health zone’s alert level. New Brunswickers should check the rules in effect in other provinces prior to travel.

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New cases

There were three new cases of COVID-19 announced on Tuesday, including two in the Fredericton region.The other is in the Bathurst region. One case is a contact of a previously confirmed case and the other case is under investigation.The one case in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) is a contact of a previously confirmed case.The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 2,302. Since Monday, eight people have recovered for a total of 2,171 recoveries.

There have been 45 deaths, and the number of active cases is 85.

Eight patients in total are hospitalized.

Seven patients are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including two in an intensive care unit. One patient is hospitalized out of province in an intensive care unit.

On Monday, 1,118 tests were conducted for a total of 352,506.

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