Province will move to Level 1 at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has announced that New Brunswick will move to Level 1 of the winter plan to manage COVID-19 on Friday, Feb. 18, at 11:59 p.m.
“Over the past few weeks, many New Brunswickers have done their part to put our province on the right track by getting vaccinated and getting their booster dose,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “Because of the steps we have taken, hospitalizations and case numbers have begun to plateau, and the number of health-care workers in isolation is declining. Moving to Level 1 will be the first step in continuing to reduce and eliminate restrictions as we ease out of our winter plan.”
Businesses which were required to reduce their capacity to 50 per cent under Level 2, including entertainment centres, gyms and restaurants, will be able to open to full capacity under Level 1. However, they must continue to require patrons to show proof of full vaccination. Spas and salons must require proof of vaccination or maintain physical distancing between patrons. Retail businesses can also open to full capacity.
Household gatherings will be limited to a maximum of any 20 people, and outdoor informal gatherings will be limited to a maximum of any 50 people. There is no longer a requirement for a household to have a steady number of contacts, such as a Steady 10 or Steady 20.
A change has been made to Level 1 guidance to permit singing in places of worship, even if proof of full vaccination or medical exemption is not required. However, if attendees are not required to show proof of vaccination, faith venues must still operate at 50 per cent capacity; ensure physical distancing is in place; and collect names of attendees by row or have an assigned seating plan.
A change has also been made, effective Friday, Feb. 11 at 11:59 p.m. to recreation and sport guidance under Level 2 to permit children aged five to 11 to participate in game play with a two-team bubble.
More information about measures under Level 1 and Level 2 is available online.
“As we transition to Level 1, we must all remain vigilant to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “This includes wearing a mask, getting vaccinated and getting a booster dose, and staying home when you do not feel well.”
Updates to mandatory order to address disruptive protests
The mandatory order has been updated to address potential protests that may disrupt the lives of New Brunswickers. The updates prohibit:
· Stopping or parking a vehicle or placing any item in a way that contributes to blocking the normal flow of traffic on any road or highway.
· Participating in, financing, organizing or aiding any interruption of the normal flow of vehicle traffic on any road or highway. This includes delivering fuel, food, drink or other supplies to anyone who is attempting to interrupt the normal flow of vehicle traffic.
· Stopping or gathering with others along the side of any numbered highway.
“People have a right to protest, but we have to take the safety of all New Brunswickers into consideration,” said Higgs. “These updates are similar to measures taken in other jurisdictions.”
People who break these rules can face fines ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 per offence and corporations are subject to fines ranging from $20,000 to $100,000. Any individual who is convicted who is using a motor vehicle may have their driving privileges suspended for up to 12 months and notice will be sent to the registered owner and insurer of the vehicle.
Peace officers will be able to seize supplies being delivered unlawfully, including food, drink, fuel, construction materials, noise-making objects and weapons. Any vehicle obstructing a road or highway may also be seized.
People 30 and older now eligible for Pfizer vaccine as a booster
People 30 and older may now book an appointment to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine for their booster shot.
“While there is no difference in risks between the vaccines for people who are 30 and older, we understand that some people may prefer to receive the same vaccine for all three doses,” said Russell. “Now that we have more doses of the Pfizer booster available, we are able to offer it to more New Brunswickers without worrying about running out of vaccine for younger people.”
Until now, people 30 and older were offered the Moderna Spikevax vaccine at booster clinics, regardless of which vaccine they received for previous doses. The Pfizer booster doses had been reserved for people 12-29 because the slight risk of myocarditis/pericarditis for people in this age group is reduced with this vaccine.
In addition, the Pfizer vaccine will be offered as a booster dose to anyone 12 or over with informed consent, as long as at least five months have passed since their second dose.
Those 12-17 who are moderately to severely immunocompromised due to a medical condition or treatment can also now book the third dose of their mRNA vaccine if at least 28 days have passed since their second dose. Children aged five to 11 are eligible to receive their second dose eight weeks after their first.
Anyone 30 or older who already has an appointment to receive the Moderna Spikevax vaccine is encouraged to keep that appointment so they can receive their vaccine sooner and reduce vaccine wastage.
People who have not yet scheduled an appointment can book one online at vaccination clinics offered through the Vitalité and Horizon health networks. Those unable to book an appointment online, or who need assistance booking through a health authority clinic or pharmacy, may call 1-833-437-1424.
Updated isolation and testing requirements
Public Health has introduced an updated approach to determine whether individuals need to isolate and test for COVID-19.
People with one of the following symptoms should isolate and get tested for COVID-19:
· loss of sense of taste; or
· loss of sense of smell.
People with two or more of the following symptoms should isolate and get tested for COVID-19:
· a new cough or worsening chronic cough;
· difficulty breathing;
· runny nose;
· sore throat;
· new onset of fatigue; or
· purple markings on fingers or toes of children.
“While the earliest signs and symptoms vary depending upon factors like a person’s age and the variant they have contracted, stand-alone symptoms like elevated body temperature and loss of taste or smell are more specific early indicators that someone is infected with COVID-19,” said Russell. “This new approach to isolation and testing will help identify COVID-19 cases, while preventing unnecessary absences from school and work.”
Previously, anyone with one symptom was required to isolate and get tested.
People with one symptom other than fever or loss of taste or smell should continue to self-monitor and should isolate and get tested if a second symptom develops, even if the symptoms are mild. People with only one symptom can still choose to get tested at any time.
People who are isolating after a member of their household has tested positive should continue to take a COVID-19 test if a single symptom develops during their isolation period. Due to the ease of transmission, household contacts are more likely to contract COVID-19.
The entire province is currently in the Level 2 phase of the winter plan to manage COVID-19. More information on the COVID-19 alert system, including guidance on public health measures, restrictions and the mandatory order, is available online.
Other useful links:
· Information about COVID-19 vaccines (including booking first, second or booster doses)
· Information about COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations NB COVID-19 N.-B. (arcgis.com)
· Information on getting tested (PCR or rapid tests)
· Healthy and Safe Schools website (including information on cases in schools and daycares)
· Eligible small businesses and self-employed business people can receive funding support through Opportunities NB. Details are also available from Opportunities NB’s Business Navigators by emailing or calling 1-833-799-7966.