COVID-19 round-up for Friday, May 8 – the come on in, we’re open edition

New Brunswick – “So here we are!” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health for the province. 

“This is a very important day.  We are about to embark on a new phase of our journey together collectively.”

Today, Russell and NB Premier Blaine Higgs announced New Brunswick would be stepping into phase 2 of the Orange level stage of recovery in the province.  This stage includes various activities such as the resumption of elective surgeries, and the reopening of those businesses who wish to do so.  All public health protocols remain in place, including physical distancing regulations in an effort to prevent a “resurgence of transmission”. 

Although the Emergency Measures Order is still in place, several restrictions have been lifted.

Higgs said the opportunity to move into this stage was presented because New Brunswickers followed public health directives, which has curbed the spread of the virus.  

Higgs said businesses who do open must have an operational plan written down which can be shown to a public health, public safety, or WorkSafe NB official during an arranged or surprise on-site visit.  He said if employees cannot physically distance, they must wear masks. 

The same applies to all residents.  If you are in a situation where you cannot physically distance, you must wear a mask, with the exception of children under the age of two, and those who cannot don a mask for medical reasons.

Under Phase 2 of Orange, several activities and openings are permitted, subject to maintaining physical distancing measures, general guidelines from Public Health and the Guidelines for New Brunswick Workplaces issued by WorkSafe NB.

Businesses do not need to be inspected before re-opening, but they must prepare an operational plan that can be provided to officials, if requested. Businesses may open immediately, but it is up to each business operator to decide if they are ready and if all guidelines have been met.

Re-openings and activities include:

  • Elective surgeries and other non-emergency health services, including dental, physiotherapy, optometry and massage therapy.
  • Outdoor public gatherings, with physical distancing, of 10 or fewer people.
  • Indoor public gatherings, with physical distancing, of 10 or fewer people for in-person religious services, weddings and funerals.
  • All in-person programs at post-secondary institutions, subject to the COVID-19 directives from Public Health. Virtual education options should be continued wherever possible.
  • Cultural venues such as museums, galleries and libraries.
  • Offices not deemed essential during the initial phase.
  • Retail establishments, including malls.
  • Restaurants.
  • Campgrounds and outdoor recreational activities, such as zoos and outfitters.
  • Early learning and child care centres regulated by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will be permitted to reopen as of May 19. The department will contact operators to provide further information in the coming days.
  • Non-regulated child care providers may open as of today but must adhere to Public Health guidelines, including having an operational plan.
  • Day camps, if the organization can adhere to Public Health measures set out in the document called COVID-19 Recovery Phase: Guidance to Early Learning and Childcare Facilities and Day Camps.
  • ATV trails across the province.

Russell reminded New Brunswickers the “virus is still here, and will be for some time” but said, “New Brunswick is moving forward.  We are today continuing along our road to recovery, taking the next steps in our journey to the new normal in this time of COVID-19.”

Higgs said due to the pandemic, 50,000 New Brunswickers are out of work, but jobs have opened up in the agri- and aquaculture industries, listed on the New Brunswick job matching site.  He said 188 New Brunswickers have stepped up and filled some of the available positions via the website.

“I’m excited of what I’m seeing as people are coming forward to help our farmers, out fisherman, our processors,” said Higgs.

Information on public health recovery phases, measures and guidelines is available online.

Business owners who have questions can contact Opportunities NB Business Navigators by emailing nav@navnb.ca or by calling 1-833-799-7966.

The latest version of the State of Emergency mandatory order is available online.

The province is also in the process of developing a website which will launch next week, providing a list of suppliers that can provide personal protective equipment to private industry.

Public Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 today.

To date, 17,029 tests have been conducted in New Brunswick, revealing 120 confirmed cases. There are currently two active cases, and 118 people have recovered. None of the active cases are in hospital.

Up-to-date information about COVID-19, including the latest data on confirmed cases and laboratory testing in New Brunswick is available online.

editor@stcroixcourier.ca