Higgs declares state of emergency in New Brunswick

New Brunswick – Premier Blaine Higgs has declared a state of emergency in New Brunswick.

“After serious deliberation with my cabinet colleagues, and the all-party cabinet committee on COVID 19, it is my duty to inform you that the Government of New Brunswick has declared a state of emergency today, under the Emergency Measures Act,” said Higgs during a press conference from Fredericton on Thursday, March 19.

“I want every New Brunswicker to know this is a step we are not taking lightly, or without serious consideration of its impact.”

Higgs stated that although many New Brunswickers have been adhereing to recommendations of Dr. Jennifer Russell, the provinces chief medical officer, “…it has become clear that there are still too many people in our province who are not following the advice of our public health officials, or are deliberately ignoring them,” said Higgs.

“This has compelled our government to take these extraordinary measures.

“Under the Emergency Measures Act, we have issued a declaration of emergency and mandatory order which compels businesses, their employees, and members of the public to act in the interest of flattening the curve of this outbreak,” he added.

“The coronavirus pandemic is a serious, and unprecedented challenge to New Brunswick and all our people,” said Russell.

“We are now faced with a public health emergency, and we must all act in accordance with the advice of public health experts. That means that everyone who possibly can, should stay home. It means limiting your contact with people outside your home to the greatest extent possible. Staying home will save lives. It is as simple as that.”

 Russell added although both provincial and federal governments have taken steps to ensure residents can follow these recommendations, she had concerns New Brunswickers weren’t doing enough to flatten the curve of the COVID 19 virus.

“I would support the enactment of emergency measures by the Government of New Brunswick to ensure compliance with public health directives,” said Russell.

“Remember, we must each take responsibility for our actions. Please stay home with your families and limit your contact with others. When you must be in contact with others outside your home, please try and stay at least two metres, or six feet, apart from other people. Make sure you wash your hands frequently, and cough and sneeze into your elbow.”

“Before, this was a recommendation. Today, it’s a requirement,” said Higgs. 

“I feel strongly that the decision to declare a state of emergency is the best way to protect all New Brunswickers and to avoid the dire situations that we’re seeing in other places around the world.

“The safety of all residents must continue to be our key priority.”

As a result of this declaration:

All food and beverage businesses will be reduced to take-out and delivery service only.

All lounges and special facilities licensed under the Liquor Control Act will stop admitting patrons.

All swimming pools, spas, saunas, waterparks, gymnasiums, yoga studios, dance studios, rinks and arenas, tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, climbing walls, escape rooms, ski hills, golf courses, arcades, amusement centres, pool halls, bowling alleys, casinos, cinemas, libraries, museums, zoos, aquariums, barbers, hair stylists, esthetics service providers, sugar bush operations, and theatres or other live performance venues will stop admitting members of the public.

Schools, colleges, universities and private schools must be closed to students. Institutions which have students in residence are permitted to allow them to remain in residence until they can safely return home. Online course delivery may continue.

Other measures under the declaration of state of emergency include:

All businesses in retail sales will stop admitting patrons, except: grocery stores; pharmacies; repair garages; post offices; financial and lending institutions; retailers of fuel, hardware and automotive parts; convenience stores; animal and fish feed providers; and corporate and agency stores of NB Liquor and Cannabis NB. All businesses required to stop admitting patrons are permitted to sell online or over the phone and to arrange delivery or pick-up of purchases.

Every person directed by a physician to self-isolate will obey.

Every person who has been outside Canada will self-isolate within their home for 14 days after their return to Canada, and, if they experience symptoms of COVID-19 during that period, will remain self-isolated until they are free of symptoms. This requirement does not apply to people exempted by the chief medical officer of health.

Owners and operators of all other premises at which people may gather in large numbers will take all reasonable steps to prevent gatherings of more than 10 people.

All regulated health services providers will cease operations unless the services to be provided are to address essential health care or an emergency health-care situation.

All unregulated health services providers, with the exception of those that are providing direct support to regulated health services providers, shall cease operations immediately.

Owners and managers of all workplaces and organizers of all activities will take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of people within 2 metres of each other and carry out advice to minimize risk as issued by the chief medical officer of health.

All owners and managers of all workplaces will reduce to critical functions and will take every reasonable step required to prevent people who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the workplace, in accordance with advice issued by the chief medical officer of health or Worksafe New Brunswick. They will also take every reasonable step required to prevent people from entering workplaces who have travelled internationally in the previous 14 days.

All licences, registrations, certificates and permits issued by the Province of New Brunswick valid as of March 16, 2020, shall remain valid until May 31, 2020 unless suspended by a court or by other authority under an Act of the Province.

The right of landlords under section 19 of the Residential Tenancies Act to require tenants to vacate for non-payment of rent, and the authority of residential tenancies officers under section 22 of that act to evict tenants for the same reason, are suspended, until May 31, 2020.

The declaration is available at www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Corporate/pdf/EmergencyUrgence19.pdf

Russell also confirmed the current number of COVID 19 cases in the province remains at 11 – seven confirmed and four presumptive.

editor@stcroixcourier.ca