N.B. to ease COVID-19 restrictions at midnight; students will return to class Monday
New Brunswick will return to Level 2 of its winter plan to manage COVID-19 two days earlier than expected.
The surprise move was announced Thursday afternoon during the province’s COVID-19 update.
“Your efforts have made a difference,” said New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell. “You have helped us blunt the impact of this latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The move to Level 2 will take effect Friday at 11:59 p.m.
The province’s top doctor said the decision was made to enter Level 2 because of a slowdown in the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
While Russell praised New Brunswickers for their hard work during these challenging times, she also warned that now is not the time to let their guard down.
“This does not mean we expect only smooth sailing ahead. We are still in the midst of a storm that will last another two weeks at least,” added Russell.
RESTRICTIONS TO EASE
A move to Level 2 means residents can experience a few more freedoms.
Russell said New Brunswickers must limit contacts to their household members and a steady group of 10 people for indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Masks will continue to be mandatory for indoor public gatherings and outside when physical distancing isn’t possible.
Schools will return to in-person learning on Monday. The province says there will be modified restrictions for sports activities and music.
Public venues, restaurants, along with gyms, spas and salons, will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity with proof of vaccination, and retail businesses will also be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
“We will need continued vigilance and a cautious approach when returning to school, work and everyday activities,” said Russell.
COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS
As of Thursday, 142 New Brunswickers were in hospital with the virus, including eight in intensive care.
During Thursday’s COVID-19 update, Premier Blaine Higgs expressed the importance of being fully vaccinated.
“We realize that we have had a high number of deaths in recent months,” he said. “Ninety-six per cent of those who died since Dec. 1 had an associated risk factor, such as an underlying risk factor, or they were not fully protected by vaccinations.”
The premier added, 86 per cent of those under 70 years of age who died as a result of COVID-19 since Dec. 1 were not fully vaccinated.
“Even with those positive strides forward there’s always room for improvement and vaccine capabilities have not yet been reached. We can indeed vaccinate more. We still are not fulfilling all of the available appointments,” the premier said.
The province says with a move to Level 2, daily COVID-19 updates will no longer be released, but updated info will be available on New Brunswick’s COVID-19 dashboard.
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