N.B. advises no travel for the holidays amid COVID-19, Moncton returns to orange phase

New Brunswick health officials are moving one region back to the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery as four new cases of COVID-19 are reported on Thursday.

Three of the new cases are located in the Moncton region and one in Saint John.

There are currently 43 known active cases in the province.

COVID-19 recovery phases

In a provincial update on Thursday, top doctor Dr. Jennifer Russell and Premier Blain Higgs said the Moncton region will be transitioning back to the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery.

Other regions in the province will remain in the yellow phase, but regulations for all phases are changing.

Orange phase

In the orange phase, many businesses can stay open so long as they have an approved operational plan, Higgs said.

Venues like gyms can stay open with approval and implementation of safe strategies, such as a 2-metre distance for low-intensity fitness classes like yoga and 3-metre distance for high-intensity sessions such as spin classes.

Faith venues in the orange zone may hold in-person services up to 50 participants, with 2-metre distancing and mask-wearing at all times. No singing is permitted, Higgs said.

Yellow phase

In zones in the yellow phase, indoor gatherings of 20 people are now permitted, but close contacts should be small — family and friends only.

Sports teams can continue to play.

Higgs said faith venues can remain open as long as a 1-metre distance is maintained and face masks are worn. For singing, a 2-metre distance and masks are required. If the 2-metre distance cannot be achieved, singing is not permitted.

“No matter which level a zone is in, businesses, employers and organization must ensure employees wear a mask in common areas, and where they can, maintain a distance of 2 metres,” Higgs said.

More on the recovery phase changes is available here.

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Vitalité Health Network said in a Thursday release that elective surgeries will be authorized but potentially reduced based on the increase in cases.

In addition, visits will not be allowed at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre and Stella-Maris-de-Kent Hospital as of Friday, other than in cases of obstetric, pediatric and intensive care where one visitor is allowed. Two visitors will be allowed, one at a time, for palliative care and those receiving medical assistance in dying.

Isolation for rotational workers

Higgs said in the Thursday update that new measures are being implemented for rotational workers coming back to New Brunswick.

Previously, workers would be tested upon arrival, then twice more in a 14-day period without mandatory isolation. Higgs said that 60 per cent of these workers test negative on the first day of arrival, but then test positive five days later. For those days in-between, they were allowed to go out into the community, being COVID-19-positive.

Now, workers must self-isolate alone when they return to New Brunswick, unless the entire household is isolating.

The isolation is mandatory for at least five-to-seven days when the workers will be tested for the first time. Once a negative test is received, the worker is permitted to end the isolation period with their household bubble. A second test will be done 10-12 days after arrival.

“It’s very important that the self-isolation is completely followed,” Russell said.

‘Not the year’ to travel for holidays

Dr. Russell and Higgs advised New Brunswickers to significantly limit travel outside of the Atlantic region, even for the holiday season.

“The Atlantic bubble is fragile,” Russell said. She said all Atlantic leaders are advising the same: don’t travel for non-essential reasons.

“Sadly this is not the year to visit family members outside the region or invite them to come here.”

“This sounds harsh and I understand that, but the alternative is more COVID-19 cases, like what we’re seeing in other provinces.”

Russell said New Brunswickers are facing a “long and difficult winter,” and encourages people to get outside now, while they can.

She said it will be a long process to roll out vaccines next year, but the goal is to keep things under control until then.

Higgs says New Brunswick is still in an enviable situation, and residents need to be diligent for a few more months.

“Let the vaccine have time to arrive, let’s keep this together. We’re the envy of our country; we’re the envy of other countries; let’s not lose it by being irresponsible.”

Case at adult care facility

Russell said on Thursday that one case of COVID-19 was detected at Oasis Residence, an adult residential facility in Dieppe.

Public Health started an investigation at the facility and contact tracing has been done, the province said. Health officials will conduct testing of the facility’s residents and staff throughout Thursday.

To date, the province has confirmed 392 cases of the coronavirus and says 343 have recovered.

There have been six deaths in the province, and the number of active cases is 43 with no hospitalized cases.

As of Thursday, 113,014 tests have been conducted.

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