COVID-19 round-up for Thursday, April 16 – the just keep swimming edition

New Brunswick – Despite having processed 490 tests through the Moncton laboratory yesterday, there were no new cases of COVID-19 to report in the province today.

“The efforts that you have made to date have enabled us to get to this place,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell.

“Staying here will require continued vigilance by all New Brunswickers.”

Russell also talked about contact tracing protocol, and reminded New Brunswickers should they be contacted by Public Health, to ensure they follow the directions they are provided to the letter.

Premier Blaine Higgs announced a 14 day extension of the Emergency Measures Act today, saying the declaration will continue to be extended every two weeks until it’s confidently felt the restrictions within the act are no longer required.

Higgs said there have been some revisions to the act, and reminded residents of their responsibilities under it.

Restaurants who offer take-out are responsible for ensuring correct social distancing while patrons wait for their orders, and property owners are responsible for ensuring there are no gathering on said property.

Higgs also announced restaurants who currently hold a liquor license will now be permitted to sell alcohol along with meals for take-out, and that all horticultural/agricultural businesses could now be open as they sell the supplies for growing food. “This is an essential service,” he said.

Higgs also encouraged pharmacists to remove additional dispensing fees on prescriptions in the province.

Regarding those who have primary residences outside the province, but own cottages and summer homes in New Brunswick, Higgs said while he appreciates they call New Brunswick a second home, those cottage owners will have to remain in their province of residence until the borders open. “Opening our borders poses too great a risk,” he said.

Higgs said because the province acted early in the pandemic, as we roll into May, some of the current restrictions could be lessened.

“If we continue to obey the emergency orders now, we may see fewer restrictions in the weeks ahead,” stated Higgs.

“If we continue to be patient, and we’re able to monitor very closely over the coming two weeks, we’re hopeful that commencing in May we will be able to see some changes in our lifestyles for the better.

“I thank each and every one of you for being diligent, and following the rules and protecting your neighbours and your family.

“We will get through this.”

From outside the now familiar Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced expanded eligibility for business loans, rent assistance for three months for small businesses, and international efforts to create a COVID-19 vaccine.

He said in talks Wednesday night, G7 leaders discussed their economies and measures to assist economic rebound, vaccine creation and treatment expansion, and providing assistance such as healthcare support and debt relief where needed to more vulnerable nations who may be struggling to fight the spread of the virus.

He also announced changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CBA), expanding those who can apply for the assistance.

He said businesses who in 2019 spent between $20,000 and $1.5 million on wages are now eligible to apply for the CBA which provides a loan of $40,000 with 12 months interest free payments, guaranteed by the government. Dependent on eligibility, some will be eligible to have $10,000 of the loan forgiven.

In addition, he announced a new rent program aimed at helping small business.

“Businesses and commercial property owners are also facing specific challenges because of COVID-19. So we plan on introducing the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance,” said Trudeau.

“This program will provide support to help small businesses with their rent for the months of April, May and June. To implement this program, we have to work with the provinces and territories as they govern rental relationships and we hope to have more details to share very soon.”

And finally, Trudeau said he knows Canadians are missing family and friends, and better weather makes staying at home that much more difficult.

“But we have to be disciplined,” he said. “We must stay the course. We cannot let the progress we’ve made go to waste. And above all, we cannot put lives at risk.”

Today in Canada at 11:05 a.m., there are 28,899 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 1,048 deaths. There have been 487,060 Canadians tested for the virus.