New Brunswick has unveiled revised, less restrictive COVID-19 phases of recovery as it prepares for a second wave of the coronavirus.
Among the changes, daycares will be allowed to continue operating during an uncontrolled outbreak, or red phase, as long as they follow the guidelines that have proven effective to protect children and caregivers, said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health.
During the orange phase, New Brunswickers would need to return to their two-household bubbles, but households would now be able to include formal or informal caregivers, as well as members of their immediate family, such as parents, children, siblings and grandparents, she said.
And starting Aug. 17, during the orange and yellow phases, public venues with seating, such as theatres and arenas, will be able to reduce physical distancing requirements to one metre from two metres, provided people wear masks.
Russell and Premier Blaine Higgs announced the changes during a news conference in Fredericton on Tuesday, five months to the day since they announced the province’s first case of COVID-19.
Dr. Jennifer Russell lists some restrictions to be lifted as New Brunswick’s economic recovery continues. 1:57
“We never again want to have to shut down our province like we had to this past spring,” said Higgs.
“I understand that people have concerns as restrictions are eased and life returns to a new normal, but it is imperative that we resume our lives and get back to work and restart schools,” he said. “We need to continue to support local businesses and strengthen our economy.”
The province believes the new measures will have the least impact on New Brunswickers and the economy, while keeping everyone as safe and healthy as possible, he said.
Public Health reviewed the province’s alert levels — red, orange, yellow and green — and the associated measures in light of new scientific knowledge and the effectiveness of previous control measures in Canada and other countries, Russell told reporters.
The entire province is currently in the yellow phase of recovery and is only expected to proceed to the green phase when a vaccine becomes available or when health officials learn more about how to protect people from the coronavirus.
1 new case
There is one new confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Fredericton region, health Zone 3.
The individual, in their 40s, is self-isolating, said Russell.
Public Health officials are working diligently to identify the source of infection, she said.
There are six other active cases of COVID-19 in the province, all temporary foreign workers who were still in self-isolation in Moncton when they tested positive.
New Brunswick has recorded a total of 176 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in mid-March. (The Canadian Press/NIAID-RML via AP)
The six infected temporary foreign workers must continue to self-isolate until they’re cleared by Public Health.
Four of them are from Mexico and were destined for jobs in Miramichi, Higgs has said. They are all in their 30s.
One of the other two workers is in their 40s and one is in their 50s. No other information about them was released, but one travelled from Cancun.
The province has recorded 177 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Two people have died and 168 have recovered since the first case was reported March 11.
On Monday, 307 tests were conducted for COVID-19. As of Tuesday, a total of 55,379 tests have been conducted since the pandemic started.
No decision on bubble expansion
Tuesday’s update was the first since July 30, when Higgs announced New Brunswick was expanding its travel bubble to include two Quebec border regions.
Residents of Avignon Regional County Municipality, which borders Restigouche County and includes Listuguj First Nation and Pointe-à-la-Croix, and of Témiscouata Regional County Municipality, which borders Madawaska County have been able to cross into the province for day trips only without having to self-isolate since Aug. 1.
Higgs said at that time that opening up to any other areas or the rest of Canada wouldn’t be considered for at least two weeks. The coronavirus has an estimated incubation period of up to 14 days.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs gave a COVID-19 update on Tuesday. 4:57
On Tuesday, Higgs reiterated he expects the success of the minor Quebec bubble will determine next steps. He plans to discuss opening up the Atlantic region to the rest of the country with his fellow premiers in the coming days, he said.
“Right now we’re focused on doing our further openings collectively with our other Atlantic provinces.
“And at this point it’s been quite overwhelming the support to continue as we are with limited changes in what we’re doing internally.”
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test on the government website at gnb.ca.
Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: a fever above 38 C, a new cough or worsening chronic cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, new onset of fatigue, new onset of muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms are asked to: