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COVID-19: New Brunswick Opposition leaders support move to Level 3

Click to play video: 'Experts say New Brunswick lockdown is tough, but necessary' Experts say New Brunswick lockdown is tough, but necessary
WATCH: As New Brunswick enters a 16-day lockdown, the tighter measures – which are the strictest seen in a long time – can be a tough pill for some to swallow. But, as Travis Fortnum reports, it’s a necessary medicine in the eyes of experts. – Jan 14, 2022

As New Brunswick steps closer to a province-wide lockdown than it’s been since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, provincial politicians are making their opinions known.

Speaking to Global News Thursday, People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin said he’s against the Tory government’s move.

“I’m not convinced the public is going to be as eager to follow these rules as they have in the past,” he said.

“And secondly we’re talking about Omicron. I’m not convinced that these lockdown measures are going to change hospitalizations.”

That’s the key to these measures, Premier Blaine Higgs and chief medical officer of health Dr. Russell have said: softening the blow being dealt to New Brunswick’s health-care system.

Read more: New Brunswick reports 4 more COVID-19 deaths, more than 100 people in hospital

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Austin says he’s not sure the impact of strict measures will outweigh impacts on resident mental health and to the bottom line of businesses forced to close or cut back.

Leaders of the remaining two parties in the legislature, however, say they’re behind the move.

“We are where we are and I think today’s not the day to start questioning why we’re here,” Liberal Leader Roger Melanson says.

“I think what we need to do today is to look at the next two weeks as an opportunity to all of us to try to get in a better position from a COVID perspective.”

Melanson and Green Party Leader David Coon forfeited at least some of their ability to influence moves like this in the fall, when they stepped away from Premier Higgs’ all-party COVID-19 cabinet committee — and Coon says he won’t be back at that table anytime soon.

Read more: Liberal, Green leaders withdraw from COVID commitee as striking health-care workers forced back

“Cabinet confidentiality’s a problem,” he says.

“There’s been such a lack of transparency in the way this has been communicated from day one and I don’t want to contribute to that any longer.”

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Medical Society supports move

As the province prepares for Level 3, medical experts applaud the shift.

“We know that it’s extremely restrictive and it’s unfortunate that we’re in this situation, but we’re in a dire strait,” says Dr. Mark MacMillan, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society.

Dr. MacMillan says he understands frustrations and concerns, but hopes the province can band together for the 16-day period in support of its health-care workers.

“We are getting tired,” he says.

“We have friends, colleagues, family members who are sick and who are isolating and that just puts more strain on us who are still able to provide care.”

Read more: New Brunswick doctors brace for COVID-19 pandemic’s worst phase

386 health-care workers were isolating after testing positive when the Province last updated Thursday, with 103 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday.

Forecasting said that number could hit 220 early in February if mitigation measures, like this move to Level 3, were not taken.

Dr. Macmillan says it’s not too late to dull that impending peak.

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Click to play video: 'New Brunswick moving to Level 3 of COVID-19 action plan' New Brunswick moving to Level 3 of COVID-19 action plan
New Brunswick moving to Level 3 of COVID-19 action plan – Jan 13, 2022

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