Rotational workers frustrated with N.B.'s tighter COVID-19 self-isolation rules
MONCTON, N.B. -- Rotational workers say they are frustrated with New Brunswick's new and tighter COVID-19 restrictions.
They were being tested after being home for a week in self-isolation, but under the new rules, they have to self-isolate for the full 14 days without being tested.
"I used to get tested on Day 5, get a result back Day 6, and then I was free to go," said Max Blackwood. "Now, there's no testing at all."
As a rotational worker, Blackwood and his wife Rhonda have to self-isolate under the same roof every two weeks when he returns home to New Brunswick from gold mining in Nunavut.
"We know that they have to self-isolate, but this 14-day isolation is absolutely ridiculous," said Rhonda Blackwood.
As of Friday, New Brunswick rules have changed and now rotational workers have to self-isolate for the entire 14 days.
If they are sharing a household with family, they have to isolate as well.
"No one was ever told why testing was taken away, whether it’s a funding issue, test supply issue," said rotational worker Jessica Cormier.
Cormier usually works three or four weeks at a time in Manitoba.
She says the tighter rules are taking a toll.
"There's a lot of guys here that I work with from New Brunswick who are choosing to stay indefinitely, because it's easier to stay here than to have to go home and tell your children, 'no, I can't see you.'"
But New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says they just can't take any chances with the more contagious variants.
"I do understand these difficulties," Russell said at a news conference on Friday. "These are challenges we are facing together as a province."
Rotational workers say they're being unfairly targeted.
"Their ability to break down whether the travel-related cases are coming from the rotational workers verses leisure travel is there, but they're not making that available," Cormier said. "So, there's this huge stigma now, if you're a rotational worker now in New Brunswick you're a problem."
The province says the variants would challenge their ability to contain an outbreak.