'Remember the 46 New Brunswickers,' N.B. to go green after 499 days of emergency order: RCMP
FREDERICTON -- According to the New Brunswick RCMP, Friday will mark 499 days since the COVID-19 emergency order was put in place by the province.
And on Saturday at 12:01 a.m., that order won't be renewed – which will mean the removal of all restrictions, from border checks to masks.
In a statement Tuesday, the RCMP's assistant commissioner Larry Tremblay thanked frontline workers and asked that people still follow public health recommendations to stop future spread.
"As we mark the end of the Emergency Measures Act, and move toward a post-pandemic world, please take a moment to remember the 46 New Brunswickers who lost their lives to COVID-19, as well as the many others who have endured the loss of loved ones during this challenging time," he said.
There is a cautious optimism as the last days of the mandatory order tick by.
Liberal leader Roger Melanson says he hasn't decided if he'll keep using masks after Saturday.
"I do know a lot of New Brunswickers are thinking about it," he said.
While he believes the 81.6 per cent of people who have their first dose will get their second, they may not be quick about it.
"What I'm concerned about is the speed of people going for their second shots," he said. "It is summer, the weather is nice and people have things to do, like vacationing and spending time with family and friends. Certainly now with more freedom after Friday, it may not always be top of mind to go for their second dose."
Monday saw a lower vaccine turnout, at about 2,500 people.
The average Monday in July has been about 10,000.
New Brunswick Lung Association CEO Melanie Langille is hoping there's a consideration for one another's health as the province moves into the next phase.
"I hope to see that mask-wearing becomes something that we're comfortable with," she said. "If you have signs of a respiratory infection and you need to go to the grocery store, it would be great if everybody just continues to wear masks to protect each other."
But she says from a COVID management perspective, the province has been proactive.
"I'm quite confident that in our reopening we have weighed the benefits and the potential risks quite well, against the potential overwhelming of our hospital system and the rate of vaccination that we have in our general population, that this is going to be a positive step going forward."
Administrators at the University of New Brunswick say the move to green will also mean they can increase class sizes in September.
"Although some health and safety protocols will remain, physical distancing will no longer be required in classrooms when New Brunswick moves to Green," the university said in a statement. "Over the next few weeks, we will work with faculty to explore opportunities to increase in-person course offerings. Any changes to course delivery methods will be updated in the course timetable by Wednesday, Aug. 11."
The N.B. government is also making plans for Aug. 2 – New Brunswick day. A full schedule of festivities have been planned for the Fredericton-area – including a livestream of some events for those who feel more comfortable viewing from home.