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New Brunswickers step into first restriction-free summer since COVID-19 hit

Click to play video: 'Third COVID summer in New Brunswick: carefree or cautious?' Third COVID summer in New Brunswick: carefree or cautious?
WATCH: It's the first summer since the start of the pandemic that New Brunswickers can make plans free of COVID-19 restrictions. Some experts say you should still be more cautious than carefree. Travis Fortnum reports – Jun 29, 2022

Twelve-year-old Fredericton resident Ben Martin has high hopes for the summer ahead. 245 feet high, in fact.

“My summer plans are to go to Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto,” he says excitedly.

“My plan is to go on the very, very highest ride because I want to face my fear of heights.”

The Yukon Striker coaster and its 90-degree drop await him in Ontario and, unlike the past two years, his dreams aren’t limited by COVID-19 restrictions in either province.

“It’s probably gonna be a good summer,” says Martin.

12-year-old Ben Martin says it’s probably going to be a good summer. Travis Fortnum / Global News

Click to play video: 'Fredericton rings in 1st restriction-free Canada Day since pre-COVID' Fredericton rings in 1st restriction-free Canada Day since pre-COVID
Fredericton rings in 1st restriction-free Canada Day since pre-COVID – Jul 1, 2022

Many New Brunswickers are plotting their warm weather moves, with this being the first start of summer since COVID-19 arrived on the scene that there are no provincial restrictions.

Some tell Global News they’re just happy to have the option to socialize without counting their contacts — like Tracy O’Neill, who’s looking forward to spending some time at her trailer in Penobsquis.

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“In the past we couldn’t have anybody up at the trailer,” she says, “but this year it’s all open so we can actually have company over.”

The province’s top doctor tells Global News Tuesday that Public Health is monitoring the two newest Omicron subvariants of COVID-19, but that officials aren’t expecting another wave of infection to hit until autumn.

“We do expect people to be outdoors more,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell, “but if people are indoors, obviously the risks are higher and that’s why we normally see an increase in the fall.”

Read more: COVID-19: New Brunswick reports drop in hospitalizations, 3 deaths in latest update

Some experts, though, say that messaging is overly optimistic — especially with the BA.4 and BA.5 proving to be even more transmissible than BA.2, which fuelled that springtime spike.

“With this BA.5, there’s a big concern of a summer surge,” says Newfoundland-based epidemiologist Susanne Gulliver.

Gulliver says you’re still better off wearing a mask, even if your summer plans keep you outdoors.

Events like Canada Day fireworks and open-air concerts are seeing people packed in tight quarters.

“Outside was only a safe situation when you could adequately social distance because, as we know, COVID is airborne,” says Gulliver.

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“If you are in close proximity to someone it really doesn’t matter if you’re outside.”

She admits that the idea of covering your face on a hot day is unappealing, but said it could save you from getting sick or getting someone else sick.

Click to play video: 'Latest COVID-19 variants of concern on the rise in N.B.' Latest COVID-19 variants of concern on the rise in N.B.
Latest COVID-19 variants of concern on the rise in N.B – Jun 28, 2022

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