New Brunswick’s four-phase COVID-19 recovery plan begins immediately with the loosening of physical distancing restrictions to allow “two-family bubbles,” Premier Blaine Higgs announced on Friday.
They don’t necessarily have to be family, but their choice must be mutual and once they decide they cannot choose a different household to gather with.
Outdoor spaces, such as parks and beaches, and golf courses, will also open immediately, along with fishing and hunting seasons, car pooling, “drive-in” religious services and post-secondary education, starting with “practical programs,” he told reporters during the daily briefing in Fredericton.
Elementary, middle and high schools won’t reopen until at least September.
Two to four weeks after the COVID-19 curve flattens, elective surgeries and “priority health services,” daycares, camps and childcares, retail facilities, offices and other businesses, restaurants, seasonal campgrounds, and ATV trails are expected to reopen.
Three to four weeks without a new wave of infections, hairstylists and barbers, other health care services, such as dental care, massage therapy and chiropractors, churches, fitness facilities, other close-contact businesses or services will reopen.
Reopening of gathering places, organized sports and bars are “yet to be determined.”
But Higgs said large gatherings, such as festivals and concerts will not be allowed this year.
Higgs was joined by Liberal Party Leader Kevin Vickers, People’s Alliance Party Leader Kris Austin, and Green Party Leader David Coon for the unveiling of the plan.
It comes as New Brunswick marked its sixth straight day with no new cases of COVID-19.
There are 11 active cases, including four people in hospital, one of whom is in intensive care, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell announced.
To date, a total of 107 people have recovered from the respiratory illness, she said.
The province has been under a state of emergency since March 19 because of the pandemic.
People must continue to follow Public Health measures, such as physical distancing and good hygiene as restrictions are loosened, said Russell.
She said she will not hesitate to recommend reimposing restrictions if the outbreak worsens.
Three unrelated outbreaks in a six-day period in the province would trigger further restrictions, said Russell.
Under the recovery plan, Higgs said the province will still have to keep borders closed, and he suggested it may even further restrict movement at the border.
“We need to know exactly where they’re going, why they’re going, and if it’s necessary,” said Higgs.
But Higgs did open up the possibility of travel opening up between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, which has also seen low numbers of COVID-19.
“We would look at their operation and you know maybe we’ll do some activities in conjunction with P.E.I.,” said Higgs.