NEW BRUNSWICK – The province will move back to level 2 of the winter plan on Friday, Jan. 28 at 11:59 p.m. That was the crux of the news delivered by Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell and Premier Blaine Higgs today, Thursday, Jan. 27 from Fredericton.
Russell said Public Health predicts while cases will reach a peak mid-February, the health system should be able to handle the strain, having had the past two weeks to put people in place.
She said thanks to the two weeks spent in level 3 of the winter plan, the spread of Omicron has been “blunted” thanks to New Brunswickers reduction in close contacts.
Moving to level 2 will mean household bubbles should be maintained, but can go back to adding the “steady 10,” and theatres, restaurants, spas, salons, casinos, recreation and sports centres can all re-open, but must remain at a maximum 50 per cent capacity and masks must be worn unless eating or drinking. Physical distancing must also be maintained, and all those who enter these venues must be fully vaccinated.
Schools will also return to in-person learning as planned on Monday, Jan. 31, and some modifications made to level 2 mean sports and music will return to schools, with various restrictions in place.
Those under 12 can participate in skills and drills in a single team and within consistent groups. Low contact sports such as skating can take place providing physical distancing is maintained. Low contact sports can also host competitions with up to 25 athletes again providing physical distancing is maintained.
Games and tournaments are not permitted for close contact sports such as hockey.
For children over 12, low contact team sports can take place providing they remain within the same team/group, and training is also allowed for close contact sports providing a “steady five” is adopted.
Low contact sports are allowed to host competitions but cannot exceed 50 athletes, team sports are permitted providing only two teams face each other, but no tournaments.
Games and tournaments are not permitted for close contact sports with the exception of individual sports like karate.
Masks are required when not taking part in highly aerobic activity, and for those not playing.
For universities and semi- professional teams, play may resume but venues must adhere to the 50 per cent capacity regulations, masks must be worn and proof of full vaccination must be shown.
Groups such as Scouts and after-school programs will be allowed to take place with masking and physical distancing in place. This includes art, drama, and dance programs.
For children under 12, music classes may resume with up to 25 participants providing physical distancing can be maintained and masks must be worn at all times including while singing. Wind instruments are not permitted, and music festivals, events and competitions can take place providing it is for single performers only.
Wind instruments are allowed providing players are 4 metres apart, or 2 metres if played while wearing a mask. (Side note; if you’re playing a wind instrument while wearing a mask, we’re impressed). If distancing can’t be maintained, then no wind instruments.
Music events and competitions can take place but venues must maintain 50 per cent capacity and it is limited to individual performers, and proof of vaccination will be required.
All of these details can be found at www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/alert-system/Sports
Higgs said restrictions for those 12 and under will loosen as more in that age group become vaccinated.
He added the province is still looking at ways of “encouraging” residents to become vaccinated.
For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in the province, go to www.gnb.ca/coronavirus
To book a vaccination appointment, go to www.gnb.ca/bookavaccine