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'Welcome to the new normal;' New Brunswick loosens some public health restrictions
HALIFAX -- As New Brunswick reported no new case of COVID-19 for the sixth straight day, it also announced a loosening of public restrictions to allow some activities to begin again.
New Brunswickers will be allowed to pick one household that they can visit as their own, or allow visitors from. For example, parents could take their kids to go visit their grandparents or vice-versa.
They will also be allowed to go to golf courses, parks, go hunting and fishing, carpool, and attend outdoor religious services -- all while respecting the two-metre or six-foot physical distancing rule.
"Welcome to the new normal," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Friday at a news conference in Fredericton.
Here is the full list, as outlined in a government news release and the revised emergency order:
- Two-household bubbles: Households may now choose to spend time with one other household, if both households agree. The selection made is not interchangeable.
- Golf courses and driving ranges: If all physical distancing and safety measures are in place, golf courses and driving ranges can now open.
- Recreational fishing and hunting: The delay on springs seasons has been lifted.
- Outdoor spaces: With physical distancing, people can now enjoy the outdoors including parks and beaches.
- Carpooling: Co-workers or neighbours can carpool if physical distancing measures are maintained by transporting the passenger in the backseat.
- Post-secondary education: Students requiring access to campus to fulfill their course requirements will be able to do so.
- Outdoor religious services: As an alternative to online worship, religious organizations can hold outdoor services if parishioners stay in their vehicles that are two metres apart.
Dr. Russell said of the 118 cases, only 11 are active. There are four New Brunswickers in hospital, including one in intensive care.
She said that going back to normal the way it was will not be possible and reminded people to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene.
"When it is not possible people should wear a non-medical face mask to cover your mouth," Dr. Russell said, reminding people resist the urge to shake hands or do the things we used to take for granted.
Dr. Russell said she would not hesitate to reimpose public health restrictions if there was a rise in cases of COVID-19. She says if there are three outbreaks in a six-day period, restrictions will be put back in place.
Premier Blaine Higgs said the transition to reopening businesses and activities that were closed because of the pandemic will be gradual and done in steps. In a news release, the government outlined those steps:
- Red: This is the present phase aimed at flattening the curve and containing the virus as quickly as possible.
- Orange: The goal of this phase is to balance the reopening of social and economic settings while preventing a resurgence of transmission.
- Yellow: The goal of this phase is to further increase the reopening of social and economic settings after the ability to control transmission has been demonstrated.
Green: This phase will likely come after a vaccine is available or more is learned about how to protect people from the virus.
“In these extraordinary times, I thank the other leaders, and Dr. Russell and her team for their unprecedented collaboration,” said Higgs. “To date, we have been able to manage a very difficult situation. The fact that over the past few days there have been no new cases is cause for measured optimism.
This is a developing story. It will be updated.