Province moving to a revised version of Level 2 of Winter Plan on Dec. 27 at 11:59 p.m. / Rapid testing encouraged during holiday season
FREDERICTON (GNB) – In response to the Omicron variant and the continued high number of cases, the province will move into a revised version of Level 2 of the Winter Plan on Monday, Dec. 27, at 11:59 p.m.
“We understand it is important for New Brunswickers to have this time with friends and family,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “We know that many people will be disappointed by increased restrictions, but as we have said many times, living with COVID-19 is about finding a balance. It is important that we get through the holiday season without major outbreaks and unnecessary strain on our health-care system. We are seeing significant outbreaks in the provinces around us and in Maine, and we want to avoid having those same issues.”
Some changes have been made to previously announced Level 2 measures to help New Brunswickers find balance and to incorporate some of the current interim measures.
Effective Dec. 27 at 11:59 p.m.:
- The current household plus Steady 20 is replaced with household plus Steady 10.
- Patrons dining at restaurants must show proof of vaccination and tables must be at least two metres apart.
- Restaurants, retail stores, malls, businesses, gyms, salons and spas, and entertainment centres may continue to operate, but at 50 per cent capacity and with two metres of distance between patrons.
- For public gatherings, venues cannot have events with more than 150 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is less.
- Faith venues may operate at 50 per cent capacity and with physical distancing. Choirs are not permitted but one soloist may perform if they are at least four metres from the congregation.
- All travellers, including New Brunswickers returning to the province, must register or have a multi-use travel pass. Travellers arriving by air will be provided with a rapid test kit.
- Unvaccinated people entering the province must isolate and be tested on day 10. International travellers must follow federal testing and isolation guidelines and must be tested on day five and day 10.
- Travellers must follow public health measures when in New Brunswick including wearing a mask, physically distancing and staying within a Steady 10.
Rapid testing encouraged
New Brunswickers are encouraged to acquire a supply of rapid test kits before the holidays. Information on pickup locations, including their hours of operation during the holidays, is available online.
“We know that New Brunswickers are looking forward to enjoying the holidays with friends and family, and we encourage them to do so safely,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “I highly recommend that people take advantage of the availability of rapid tests and use them regularly. By detecting infections early, and in people who may not be symptomatic, we can help limit the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season.”
A significant number of recent cases were initially detected through rapid testing.
“Our rapid testing has been instrumental in helping us identify cases, especially in people who are not yet symptomatic,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “In fact, many of our recent positive PCR tests have come as a result of people doing rapid tests, getting a positive result, and booking a PCR test to confirm. Having these tests available helps to give New Brunswickers peace of mind as they gather for the holidays, knowing that they are not passing COVID-19 to loved ones.”
Contact tracing update
Beginning today, Dec. 21, Public Health contact tracers will no longer notify close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases and instead will focus on notifications for high-risk settings. Notifying close contacts will be the responsibility of those who test positive.
Public Health will now only contact the individual who tested positive, or their employer, and provide them with guidance on what to tell their close contacts regarding testing and isolation procedures. Contact tracers will also conduct abbreviated interviews in an effort to reduce the backlog. Public Health will only step in for contact notifications if no other means are available.
The goal is to ensure that any cases in high-risk areas are notified within 24 to 48 hours of exposure.
157 recoveries/156 new cases
Public Health reported today that 157 people have recovered from COVID-19 and there are 156 new cases of the virus.
Of the new cases today, 47 are in Zone 1 (Moncton region), 39 are in Zone 2 (Saint John region), 34 are in Zone 3 (Fredericton region), 10 are in Zone 4 (Edmundston region), two are in Zone 5 (Campbellton region), four are in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) and 20 are in Zone 7 (Miramichi region).
There are 17 people in intensive care and another 24 are in hospital for a total of 41 people hospitalized. Of those in hospital, 26 are over the age of 60 and 10 people are on a ventilator. There is no one under 19 hospitalized.
The seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations is now available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Five of the 41 people hospitalized were initially admitted for other reasons and contracted COVID-19 due to outbreaks at hospitals in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton and Miramichi. Most of these people are exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms.
To date, 71 cases have been confirmed to be the Omicron variant.
The rate of people hospitalized and in ICU, as well as new cases, continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated. Information about the rates of cases and hospitalizations based on vaccination status is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Age and origin of new cases, as well as additional information, is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Public Health reported today that 82.7 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 89.6 per cent have received their first dose, and 14.8 have received a booster dose.
Additional booster clinics are available through regional health authority community COVID-19 vaccination clinics and at participating pharmacies.
Those who are eligible for pediatric vaccinations or booster doses, and those who have yet to have their first or second dose, can schedule an appointment at a regional health authority clinic through the online booking system or at a participating pharmacy.
In Moncton, residents booking vaccinations should be aware that, as of Dec. 23, the vaccination clinic will be located at the former Moncton High School, at 207 Church St.
All of New Brunswick is currently in the Level 1 phase of the winter plan with additional interim measures. More information on the plan, including the additional temporary measures, is available online.
Any household in New Brunswick with a positive case of COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals advised by Public Health or a physician, including confirmed cases of COVID-19, must isolate. More information about isolation is available online.
Information and resources to help New Brunswickers live with COVID-19 is available on the COVID-19 guidance and resources webpage.
Information about testing, including booking PCR tests and using rapid tests, is available at www.gnb.ca/GetTestedCOVID19.
Travellers, including New Brunswickers returning to the province, must register their travel with the travel registration program.
Holiday guidelines for individuals, retailers and event organizers on how to plan for a happy and safe holiday season are available online.