HALIFAX -- All of New Brunswick -- with the exception of Zone 5 – is moving ahead to the next level of the yellow recovery phase, effective immediately.

“This new phase will allow more gatherings, more activities, more access to family and more travel from outside the province,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, during a news conference in Fredericton on Friday.

“With every step forward, there are risks. More than ever, it’s essential that people throughout the province watch for COVID-19 infection symptoms so we continue to take measures to slow down the spread.”

More restrictions are being eased and more businesses can reopen under this phase.

Businesses that choose to reopen must prepare an operational plan that respects the public health guidelines.

The following changes are effective Friday:

  • Overnight camps can reopen.
  • Residents of long-term care facilities can have indoor visits with one visitor at a time, if the facility is able to do so. Two visitors will be allowed if the visitor requires support.
  • New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate when returning from work in another Canadian province or territory, but they should self-monitor for symptoms.
  • Canadian residents who own property in New Brunswick can enter the province, but they must self-isolate for 14 days, or the duration of their visit if it is shorter than 14 days.
  • Canadian residents can visit family members in New Brunswick, but they must self-isolate for 14 days, or the duration of their visit if it is shorter than 14 days.
  • All organized sports are permitted, with appropriate distancing and sanitizing.
  • A cap on the number of people gathering in controlled venues is lifted. Occupancy is based on the ability to maintain physical distancing between participants that are not close friends and family. This includes churches, swimming pools, saunas, water parks, rinks, indoor recreational facilities and organized sports that previously had a gathering limit of 50 people.
  • Venues with indoor events with controlled entry or controlled seating are required to maintain records of users’ contact information to allow Public Health to conduct contact tracing in case of exposure to COVID-19 at the facility.

“It will still be very important to maintain physical distancing and continue good hygiene practices,” said Russell. “As I have said before, we can’t stand still forever. We must get on with our lives and adjust to this new normal, which is our reality right now in terms of continuing to deal with new cases as they arise.”

If the number of cases remains low over the next week, all remaining businesses could open on June 26, with appropriate distancing and sanitizing, and operational plans respecting Public Health guidelines.

Two-thirds of New Brunswick businesses are open at this time.

Atlantic ‘bubble’ coming soon

Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday that talks about a tourism “bubble” between the Atlantic provinces are ongoing.

The bubble would allow Atlantic Canadians to travel freely between the four provinces without having to self-isolate.

No date has been set, but Higgs said he expects the bubble will open in early July.

He hopes to further open New Brunswick’s borders to the rest of Canada later in July.

“Let me be clear, these steps hinge on our ability to continue to manage the spread of COVID-19. Even though restrictions have been loosened, we have to stay vigilant,” said Higgs.

“The measures we have taken, and that we will continue to take, will allow us to minimize risks for our population, but the virus is still present and it will continue to be there for the foreseeable future.”

Zone 5

Russell said Friday that the situation in Zone 5 -- the Campbellton-Restigouche region -- is improving, but it remains in the orange recovery phase at this time.

Zone 5 is the location of a recent outbreak of COVID-19, which has resulted in 40 confirmed cases of the virus and two deaths.

Russell said the COVID-19 outbreak in Zone 5 has been centred around a seniors’ home and local health facilities, and the virus doesn’t appear to have spread throughout the community or to other areas of New Brunswick.

Forty employees with the Campbellton Regional Hospital are self-isolating at this time.

“We know that, even without a pandemic happening, there are challenges with respect to staffing in the north, so taking that into account with a pandemic on top, again, they are doing things right now that are safest for the patients and the staff,” said Russell.

She is encouraging anyone with any COVID-19 symptoms to get tested.

If the situation continues to improve, Zone 5 could move into the yellow recovery phase at the end of the month.

“With Zone 5, we haven’t been able to move forward at the moment, but the plans are in place to look at that in the next little while,” said Russell.

“If the tests are confirmed that there’s no community spread, Zone 5 should go to the yellow phase on June 26.”

The following rules remain in place in Zone 5:

A two-household bubble is permitted. One household can “bubble” with one other household if both households agree to be mutually exclusive. Residents cannot have close contact with anyone outside their bubble and can’t bubble with more than one household.

Non-regulated health professionals and businesses, such as acupuncturists and naturopaths, cannot operate at this time.

Businesses that offer personal services, such as barbers, hairdressers, spas, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists and tattoo artists cannot operate at this time.

No new cases of COVID-19

The province reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases remains at 164, though 135 people have recovered from the virus, including 14 cases related to the Campbellton outbreak.

There are 27 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick.

Two people are in hospital and one patient is in an intensive care unit.

As of Friday, 39,806 tests had been conducted.

Increase in testing

Russell announced an increase in testing across the province by allowing testing for anyone who experiences one of the following symptoms:

  • fever above 38°C or signs of fever (such as chills)
  • a new cough or worsening chronic cough
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • a new onset of fatigue
  • a new onset of muscle pain
  • diarrhea
  • loss of sense of taste or loss of sense of smell; and
  • in children, purple markings on the fingers or toes.

Anyone who experiences one any one of the symptoms is encouraged to call 811 for further assessment.