'The road ahead is now clear': New Brunswickers react to reopening plans
MONCTON -- The Province of New Brunswick's three-phase reopening plan, announced Thursday, comes as a huge relief for many residents.
“We have come so far in this journey through the COVID-19 pandemic. The road ahead is now clear,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said on Thurday.
The first phase, set to begin on June 7, eliminates mandatory isolation and testing for those travelling to New Brunswick from within Atlantic Canada and Quebec regions of Avignon and Témiscouata. Nova Scotia will not be included in the first reopening phase.
The plan is contingent on 75 per cent of the population in New Brunswick receiving their first dose of the vaccine and all zones must be in the Yellow Alert level.
Sackville, N.B.'s new Mayor-Elect Shan Mesheau says if cases remain low, reopening the bubble in July could be a huge relief for border communities.
“We’re closer-nit to Amherst (Nova Scotia) than we are to northern parts of New Brunswick," says Mesheau, highlighting how its economies are joined.
“We have people living in Amherst working in Sackville, and people in Sackville working in Amherst.”
Some would like to see the borders to Nova Scotia reopen earlier than July 1, which is the start date of the second phase.
Megan Mitton, MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar in New Brunswick, has been pushing to loosen restrictions for those living in border communities for months.
“I’m concerned about how it will impact the riding of Memramcook-Tantramar and cross border commuters especially. While we have June 7 and July 1 as tentative dates, there is no guarantee” said Mitton.
In the first phase, isolation requirements for cross-border, commuters and truck drivers will no longer be required.
“I think they’ll be pretty pleased,” said Jean-Marc Picard, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.
There’s going to be a bit more time to spend with their families, less restrictions, so it’s obviously great. Not just for our industry, but for everybody,” said Picard.
However, rotational workers who are travelling outside of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Avignon, and Témiscouata will be required to isolate between five and seven days.
Nova Scotia will be able to join New Brunswick in its reopening plan beginning July 1 unless certain requirements aren’t met.
Requirements for the second phase outline that 75 per cent of New Brunswickers 12 and older have received their first dose of a vaccine and 20 per cent of New Brunswickers 65 and older have received their second dose.
The number of hospitalizations must also remain low and all health zones in the province must remain at the Yellow Alert level.
New Brunswick’s Minister of Health, Dorothy Shephard, says all restrictions in New Brunswick could be lifted by Aug. 2 if certain requirements are met.
The full details of New Brunswick's reopening plan are available on the government's website.