All health areas in New Brunswick will move to Level 3 of the COVID-19 Alert System by 11:59 p.m. Friday.
Premier Blaine Higgs said at a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday that the lockdown would last for 16 days, or until January 30.
According to the provincial website, Level 3 restrictions include the following:
- single domestic bubble
- no indoor public gatherings
- closing gyms, spas and recreation centers
- Restaurants can only operate on take-out and delivery
- Retail: Encouraged the use of contactless curbside pickup and/or designate a household person for purchase if possible to minimize contacts
- Faith Venues may only have outdoor, virtual or in-car services
- Organized sports not allowed
- Organized sports and all other organized activities with people outside the single-domestic bubble are not permitted.
- Outdoor exercise or activities such as skiing, skating or snowmobiling are allowed, as long as public health measures are followed and you are within your single-domestic bubble.
- Lodges and other facilities supporting outdoor sports should not exceed 50 percent and should not allow eating or drinking indoors
The province also says that learning at home will be extended for another week. Students are set to return to classes on January 31.
“Think of it as short-term pain for long-term gain,” Higgs said.
“Going to level 3 was not something I wanted to do and I really hate making the move.”
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Higgs said there are currently 104 New Brunswickers hospitalized with COVID-19, including 9 in the ICU, and 386 medical workers in isolation after testing positive.
He said that going to level 3 is necessary at this time.
“We need our kids back in school and sports. We need to be able to open our businesses and make a living for the business owners,” he said.
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Higgs also said the province was prepared to force New Brunswickers to get the vaccine.
“Life will become increasingly uncomfortable and difficult for those who are able to be vaccinated but choose not to.”
The province is asking people who have experience delivering vaccines to move forward, such as retired nurses, dentists and medical workers from other countries who are now living in New Brunswick.
“It’s going to be a tough two weeks, but we need to do this,” Higgs said, after looking at extensive data from public health, adding that there was no other option.
“The Level 3 measure is the end result and a step we must take to protect our essential services and our hospitals.”
Higgs said the serious issue is reducing the number of hospitalizations.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Jennifer Russell said at the briefing that if the province did nothing, the number of cases would continue to rise and there could be more than 200 people with COVID-19 in hospitals by the end of the month. Huh.
“We are facing a serious situation and we need serious measures to deal with it,” Russell said.
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She said that while the numbers will continue to rise even with restrictions, “but how fast this increase will be will depend on everyone adhering to public health measures.”
Russell said the Omicron variant is much more permeable and infects faster than previous COVID-19 variants. She said those at greatest risk are people who haven’t been vaccinated or haven’t received their second or booster dose.
“Please don’t look for flaws,” said Russell.
“It is no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of life and death.”
Russell said we should all act to limit the impact of the crisis, adding that no one wants to see people die who could have been saved if their hospital had beds and staff for treatment.
more to come.
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