HALIFAX -- New Brunswick will be moving into phase one of the province's 'Path to Green' reopening plan, after the province hit its 75 per cent vaccination target on Tuesday.

"We can now take the first steps towards reopening our province and removing some of the public health restrictions that have been in place since the pandemic began," said N.B. chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell during Tuesday's news update.

Public Health says as of Tuesday, 75.1 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older have now received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

"New Brunswick is in the top three provinces for the rate of vaccination," said N.B. Premier Blaine Higgs during Tuesday's news update. "I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to get the first dose of vaccine, to help protect their self, their loved ones, their family and their community. You've played a huge role in helping to move our province forward."

"In particular, I want to give special praise to young New Brunswickers, the future of our province, who came out in the thousands the past 10 days, enabling us to reach today's milestone," added Russell. "We now have a majority of first-dose vaccinations in every age category, and I hope even more New Brunswickers will seek vaccines in the weeks ahead, because that will reduce the risk for everyone."

Once in Phase One, the following restrictions will be in place:

  • No isolation or testing will be required for those travelling to New Brunswick from the following select regions: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, the Avignon and Témiscouata regions of Quebec, and Cumberland County in Nova Scotia.
  • Compassionate travel will be permitted with isolation and testing requirements in place.
  • Cross border commuters and truck drivers will no longer be subject to testing and isolation requirements.
  • Other workers, including rotational workers, travelling from outside the select regions, will be required to isolate and take a COVID-19 test between days five and seven before they can discontinue isolation, unless they have an existing work-isolation plan. This is a reduction from the previous 14-day requirement and will be eliminated in Phase 2 of the Path to Green.
  • Contact with all family and friends will be permitted and restrictions will be loosened for indoor and outdoor gatherings. Indoor informal gatherings will be limited to 20 or fewer, while indoor formal gatherings can be up to 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity with an operational plan. Outdoor informal gatherings will be permitted with two metres of distancing between groups and outdoor formal gatherings are permitted at maximum capacity with two meters of distancing between groups and an operational plan.
  • Organized sporting activities will be permitted but restricted to teams based in the select regions.
  • Faith gatherings can take place with a maximum 50 per cent venue capacity and with the choir at least four metres from the congregation.

Public health says all other restrictions in New Brunswick will remain in place, including the requirement for travel registration and the use of masks, based on a health zone’s alert level.

The second phase of the path toward the Green level of the COVID-19 recovery plan will come into effect when 20 per cent of New Brunswickers 65 and older have received their second dose, assuming hospitalizations remain low and all health zones remain at the Yellow alert level.

According to Russell, nearly 12 per cent of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated with both doses, including 18 per cent of residents over the age of 65.

On Monday, 26,000 people booked first and second dose appointments online. 

THREE NEW CASES

Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting three new COVID-19 cases and eight recoveries on Tuesday, as the active number of cases in the province drops to 85.

Two of the new cases were reported in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), involving an individual in their 20s, and an individual in their 80s. One of the cases is the contact of a previously reported case, and one is under investigation.

The other new case was identified in the Bathurst region (Zone 6), involving an individual in their 50s who is a close contact of a previously reported case.

N.B. COVID-19 CASE DATA

New Brunswick has had 2,302 cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

In total, 2,171 people have recovered, and 45 people have died in the province from COVID-19.

Eight people are currently in hospital with COVID-19 in total, Of those, six patients are hospitalized in New Brunswick, including two in an intensive care unit. One person is hospitalized outside of the province, in an intensive care unit.

Public health says 1,118 tests were completed on Monday in New Brunswick, and 352,506 total since the start of the pandemic.

The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:

  • Zone 1 – Moncton region: 474 confirmed cases (19 active cases)
  • Zone 2 – Saint John region: 295 confirmed cases (no active case)
  • Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 429 confirmed cases (35 active cases)
  • Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 752 confirmed cases (one active case)
  • Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 185 confirmed cases (no active cases)
  • Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 128 confirmed cases (29 active cases)
  • Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 39 confirmed cases (one active case)

VACCINE UPDATE

New Brunswick's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Tuesday, 602,894 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in New Brunswick.

Beginning Monday, any New Brunswickers who received their first dose of a vaccine prior to May 1 can book an appointment for their second dose through a participating pharmacy or at a Vitalité or Horizon health network clinic.

On June 21, eligibility for second-dose vaccinations will be extended to everyone, as long as at least 28 days has passed since their first dose.

“Someone who received an mRNA vaccine as a first dose does not need to book the same product for a second dose,” said Russell. “If you received Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, you can book an appointment for either vaccine for your second dose. They work the same way and have similar levels of safety and effectiveness. Like many medications you may take, when the active ingredient is the same, they work the same way. This approach will help New Brunswickers access their second dose as soon as possible.”

N.B. officials recommend that anyone under the age of 55 who received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose, you receive an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech) as their second dose, unless contraindicated. Anyone 55 or older can receive a second dose of AstraZeneca or of an mRNA vaccine.

To receive their second vaccine dose, New Brunswickers are asked to bring a signed consent form, their Medicare card and a copy of the record of immunization provided after receiving their first dose. If possible, residents are asked to book an appointment at the same pharmacy or clinic at which they received their first dose.

Appointments for people who have not yet received their first dose will continue to be available to eligible New Brunswickers at regional health authority clinics and through participating pharmacies.

YELLOW LEVEL REMINDER

All of New Brunswick remains under the Yellow level of recovery under the province’s order. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.