Province to shift to level 1 of winter plan; changes made to mandatory order

NEW BRUNSWICK – The province will move to level 1 of the winter action plan at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18 said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health and Premier Blaine Higgs in a live press briefing Wednesday, Feb. 9 from Fredericton.

Beginning this Friday, Feb. 11, at 11:59 p.m. children aged five to 11 who are on a sports team can bubble with one other team to play games. 

More information about measures under Level 1 and Level 2 is available online.

The mandatory order was also updated ahead of a trucker convoy headed to Fredericton this weekend.

Ahead of the planned convoy in the provincial capital, schools in the area will be closed on Friday, and many businesses have also posted they will be closed. St. Thomas University also announced it would close its Fredericton campus at 11:30 a.m. on Friday “due to the possibility of traffic disruptions, particularly in the downtown core,” says the post.

Fines will range from $3,000 to $10,000 per individual per offence, and those convicted will have their driver’s license suspended for 12 months, and the registered owner of the vehicle and the insurance company will be notified of the suspension. Corporations who engage in the act can be fined $20,000 to $100,000.

The changes included stopping a vehicle or placing an item in such a way that it blocks the flow of traffic on any road, thruway, street or highway, and participating in, financing, organizing or aiding stopping the flow of traffic on any road, street, or highway. This includes providing food, beverages, or any other supplies to anyone who has stopped the flow of traffic.

You also cannot stand or gather on the side of a numbered highway.

Under the new mandatory order, police and peace officers can seize any supplies delivered to those disobeying the order.  This includes food, beverages, fuel, construction materials, noise-making objects and any weapons.  Any vehicle left blocking a road or highway may also be seized.

Level 1 changes include gathering limits increasing to 20 people indoors and 50 outdoors.  Gyms, sports centres, entertainment venues, and restaurants can operate at full capacity but must still require proof of vaccination, and patrons must remain seated.  

Salons, spas etc. can operate at full capacity if they require proof of vaccination, or 50 per cent capacity without proof of vaccination.  Masks must still be worn indoors, and outside only if you cannot physically distance.

In level 1, school sports can return to normal operation.

Higgs said the goal is to lift all restrictions by the end of March, but offered no concrete triggers or data that would allow for the change. 

“We are comfortable moving to level 1,” said Higgs, who also made clear the shift was not as a result of pressures from protesters across the country.

“This shift is something we’ve been working towards and I think letting it seem as though protests  have brought us to this point undervalues the sacrifice made by New Brunswickers to get us this far.

Asked about the planned convoy in Fredericton over the weekend, Higgs said peaceful protests are fine, but unlawful actions are not okay.

“We know people are frustrated with how COVID-19 has affected their lives.  I’m equally frustrated.  But certain actions that we are seeing in Ottawa are unacceptable and we cannot expect that to come from other Canadians.”