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COVID-19: N.B. to welcome rest of Canada into province, 2 weeks ahead of schedule

Click to play video: 'N.B. to begin Phase2 of its reopening plan' N.B. to begin Phase2 of its reopening plan
WATCH: Just one day after entering the first phase of its “Path to Green” reopening plan, New Brunswick will surge ahead into Phase 2 as of midnight, officials announced Wednesday. That phase, originally intended to begin on July 1, will bring looser COVID-19 restrictions and more travel into the province. Silas Brown has more. – Jun 16, 2021

Just one day after entering the first phase of its “Path to Green” reopening plan, New Brunswick will surge ahead into Phase 2 as of midnight tonight, officials announced Wednesday.

That phase, originally intended to begin on July 1, will bring looser COVID-19 restrictions and more travel into the province.

In a news conference, Premier Blaine Higgs said the province has hit its goal of having 75 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and up having the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 20 per cent of people aged 65 and older having their second dose. Those numbers are now 75.4 and 20.2 per cent, respectively.

“We have been living with this pandemic for so long that it’s hard to believe we’re so close to reaching the green level,” Higgs remarked.

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

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In this phase, the province will reopen to all Atlantic Canadian provinces, as well as to the rest of the country for people with at least one dose of the vaccine, without the need to self-isolate.

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick eases travel restrictions for Atlantic bubble, rest of Canada' New Brunswick eases travel restrictions for Atlantic bubble, rest of Canada
New Brunswick eases travel restrictions for Atlantic bubble, rest of Canada – Jun 16, 2021

Atlantic Canadians won’t need to register for travel, but those from the rest of Canada will.

New Brunswick is still only on its first day of Phase 1, which allows indoor gatherings of up to 20 people and travel from P.E.I, N.L., Avignon and Témiscouata (Quebec) without the need to self-isolate.

Higgs said the speed at which restrictions were loosened is reflective of New Brunswickers’ hard work throughout the pandemic.

Read more: COVID-19: N.S. changes course, re-opening to Atlantic Canada set for June 23

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He noted that more younger New Brunswickers are booking their second doses of the vaccine, with 13 per cent of all people aged 12 and up having now received their second dose.

“It is indeed exciting to see how many New Brunswickers are signing up for the second vaccine across all age groups,” he said.

“This has not only allowed us to reach our Phase 2 ahead of schedule. This continued activity could allow us to reach the green stage earlier than expected.”

The province is expected to reach Phase 3, or the green stage, by August 2, as long as 75 per cent of people aged 12 and up have received their second dose.

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick to open COVID-19 vaccine 2nd dose eligibility for all next week' New Brunswick to open COVID-19 vaccine 2nd dose eligibility for all next week
New Brunswick to open COVID-19 vaccine 2nd dose eligibility for all next week – Jun 16, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, warned the province could see an increase in cases as more people are able to enter, noting that New Brunswick has been able to keep its case numbers so low due to its border measures.

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“But the good news is that more of our people are getting vaccinated every single day, which means more people are protected,” she said.

“So this, along with the continued testing and early identification and management of cases, will provide a new layer of protection against the virus and allow us to prevent our health-care system from being overwhelmed, as we have succeeded at doing throughout the entire pandemic.”

Russell also said all residents in the province who got their first COVID-19 vaccine shot will be able to receive their second shot beginning Monday, as long as there is a 28-day interval between both doses.

Click to play video: 'N.B.’s reopening plan met with excitement and worry' N.B.’s reopening plan met with excitement and worry
N.B.’s reopening plan met with excitement and worry – Jun 16, 2021

Phase 2 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.

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In terms of lifting restrictions, Phase 2 includes changes in travel and business.

Travel:

  • Atlantic bubble will open to Nova Scotia.
  • Travellers from elsewhere in Canada will be able to enter without self-isolating as long as they register and have one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Those from outside of Atlantic Canada who don’t have a vaccine can enter, but will have to isolate and take a COVID-19 test between days five and seven of their isolation.
  • There will be no more requirement for travellers to isolate in a designated facility.
  • Rotational workers and their households will no longer need to self-isolate upon their return to New Brunswick,
  • Travel registration will continue for travellers outside of Atlantic Canada or Avignon or Témiscouata in Quebec.
  • While this phase would also allow restrictions for travellers coming from Maine and other international jurisdictions to be reduced, those changes are pending federal regulations.

Restaurants and businesses:

  • Restaurants and businesses may operate at regular capacity.
  • Businesses like restaurants, gyms and salons must continue to maintain a contact list of clients to allow Public Health to contact trace if needed.
  • Masks must continue to be worn indoors when it’s not possible to maintain a physical distance of two metres or when not eating or drinking.
  • The requirement to remain seated is no longer in effect.

Sports and sporting events:

  • Organized sporting activity is permitted with operational plan.
  • Games and competitions with players outside of Atlantic Canada are subject to travel requirements.

Restrictions around gathering limits, faith gatherings and masking remain in place. A full list of each phase and their rules can be found on the province’s website.

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3 new cases, outbreak over at special care home

For now, all of the province’s health zones remain at the yellow alert level.

New Brunswick also reported 3 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. There is one new case each in Zone 1, the Moncton region, Zone 3, the Fredericton region, and Zone 6, the Bathurst region.

All the new cases are close contacts of previously reported cases.

There are now 58 active cases in the province, the lowest number of active cases since mid-March. Six people are hospitalized with the disease, including two in intensive care.

The province also announced that an outbreak of COVID-19 at a special care home in Shediac is now over.

The outbreak at Ti Bons Soins was officially declared on May 25 following a case at the facility. Since then, staff and residents were re-tested several times to confirm the outbreak was over.

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