FREDERICTON -- There is still concern about the risk of opening up -- even to our neighbours -- but our region's top doctors say we need to learn to live with COVID-19 and they're prepared for what could come.

"I would love to say that I'm going to relax and take a breather, but we're in a pandemic and we're going to be in a pandemic situation for the next you know, how many months and years until we get a vaccine," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health.

She says more than the weather has changed since the pandemic began and the province declared a state of emergency in March.

"We have the confidence that if everybody continues to do what they have been doing that we can limit the outbreaks to small numbers," Dr. Russell said.

That confidence comes after months of research and learning about a virus that shut down borders, bridges and businesses.

She says Atlantic Canada's cases are low and so is the risk in opening up to our neighbours.

"Zero cases are not realistic, so we have to focus on what's realistic," Dr. Russell said. "What can we achieve in terms of the most amount of success and the least amount of risk?"

That sentiment is shared by medical experts across our region.

Doctors Nova Scotia says it's important for people to remember the virus is still active, but to enjoy the new freedoms so long as precautions are taken.

The New Brunswick Medical Society agrees.

"No matter where you are, practice your physical, social distancing, wash your hands, and you know, I believe firmly that when in public, if you cannot space yourself away from other people, wear a mask," said N.B. Medical Society president Dr. Chris Goodyear."We don't want to wait until the virus is back before we start going back to what we were doing. We just need to basically keep these habits until we get a vaccine."

Newfoundland and Labrador has set a target of July 17 to open to the rest of Canada.

Dr. Russell says New Brunswick won't set a date until they see how the Atlantic bubble does, but she says she's encouraged as numbers in the rest of Canada are coming down.