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Friday, October 22, 2021

New Brunswick implements ‘circuit breaker’ measures heading into Thanksgiving weekend

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HALIFAX — As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in New Brunswick, the province is implementing circuit breaker measures.

The new restrictions will last a minimum of 14 days in regions that are the highest risk.

The areas that will be impacted are Zone 1 (Moncton region), as far north as and including Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, Zone 3 in the upper Saint John River valley north of and including Florenceville-Bristol and all of Zone 4 (Edmundston region).

As part of the circuit breaker, people must limit their contacts to a single household.

It means that indoor and outdoor gatherings are not permitted beyond a single household, except in public places where proof of vaccination is required.

Travel to and from circuit breaker areas is also prohibited, except for work, health-care services, post secondary education or childcare reasons.

Schools will stay open, but sports and extracurricular activities will be paused for 12 and under.

Businesses, entertainment centres and events can remain open and continue to accept those who provide proof of vaccination as well as children under 12 who are accompanied by a vaccinated adult.

The restrictions will take effect at 6 p.m. on Friday for a minimum of 14 days.

THANKSGIVING WEEKEND RESTRICTIONS

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says social gatherings of unvaccinated residents are driving the province’s current COVID-19 situation.

As a result, public health is requiring that everyone limit their contacts to single household for outdoor and indoor gatherings during the Thanksgiving weekend, beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. through Monday at 11:59 p.m.

“The area of greatest concern right now is casual, in-home gatherings,” Higgs said.

MANDATORY VACCINES FOR PROVINCIAL WORKERS

The government also announced Tuesday that all government employees in parts I (civil service), II (education system), III (health-care system) and IV (Crown corporations), staff in long-term care facilities and staff and volunteers in schools and licensed early learning and child-care facilities must be fully vaccinated.

The deadline to provide proof of two doses is Nov. 19, six weeks from Friday.

In the interim, those who are not fully vaccinated and come in contact with a positive case will be placed on leave without pay.

Early learning and childcare facilities that do not ensure their staff is fully vaccinated by Nov. 19 will face the possibility of losing their licence.

CASE DATA

The province is also reporting one COVID-19 related death and 90 new infections on Tuesday.

The most recent death is a person in their 80s in the Edmunston region. It brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in New Brunswick to 69.

The province currently has 782 active cases of COVID-19.

There are 50 people in the hospital, 23 of which are in the ICU.

“The great majority of these hospital patients, 82 per cent, have not been vaccinated,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer.

Of those in hospital, seven are vaccinated, two have one dose and 41 are unvaccinated.

“The growing caseload of COVID patients is straining our system,” said Russell.

“We have been managing … but it is really at the point where things are extremely, extremely stretched.”

CASES BY REGION

The 45 new cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region) are as follows:

  • fifteen people 19 and under;
  • six people 20-29;
  • nine people 30-39;
  • five people 40-49;
  • five people 50-59;
  • three people 60-69;
  • a person 70-79; and
  • a person 80-89.

Forty-two cases are under investigation and three are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The four new cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region) are as follows:

  • two people 40-49;
  • a person 50-59; and
  • a person 60-69.

Two cases are under investigation and two are contacts of previously confirmed case.

The 25 new cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) are as follows:

  • eight people 19 and under;
  • two people 20-29;
  • a person 30-39;
  • four people 40-49;
  • three people 50-59;
  • two people 60-69; and
  • five people 70-79

Eighteen cases are under investigation and seven are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The seven new cases in Zone 4 (Edmundston region) are as follows:

  • four people 19 and under;
  • a person 20-29; and
  • two people 70-79.

Four cases are under investigation and three are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The one new case in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) is a person 50-59. This case is under investigation.

The five new cases in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) are as follows:

  • two people 19 and under;
  • a person 40-49;
  • a person 60-69; and
  • a person 70-79.

All five cases are under investigation.

The three new cases in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) are as follows:

  • a person 19 and under; and
  • two people 30-39.

All three cases are under investigation.

VACCINATION UPDATE

Public health is reporting that 80.7 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 89.7 per cent have received their first dose of a vaccine.

RAPID TESTING IN SCHOOLS

Schools are working with public health to develop a new rapid testing program.

Beginning Oct. 12, unvaccinated students who are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case will be provided with either a five- or 10-day supply of rapid tests, depending on the last possible exposure date to the confirmed case, along with instructions.

Tests may be sent home with students or picked up by parents the following day, depending upon when the school is notified of a confirmed case.

Unvaccinated students will be required to self-isolate for at least 24 hours while they take their first two rapid tests. Unless otherwise advised by public health, students will be able to return to school once they have recorded two negative tests and if they have no symptoms.

Schools will also be asking students who are vaccinated to voluntarily provide proof of vaccination so that they may return to class as quickly as possible, even when a case has been confirmed at a school.

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