FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government announced today that all of New Brunswick will move to Level 3 of the COVID-19 winter plan for 16 days starting on Friday, Jan. 14, at 11:59 p.m. It will be in effect until Jan. 30 at 11:59 p.m.
“Introducing these additional measures is not a step anyone wanted to take, but we promised we would take action when action was needed, and that time is now,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “Based on the rising number of hospitalizations, this is what we need to do to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant and mitigate the impact on our health-care system. This will also give us more time to administer booster doses and vaccinate children aged five to 11.”
Under Level 3, the following measures will be in effect:
- People must stay within their single-household bubble. A single-household bubble includes the people you live with. Where required, this can be extended to include: caregivers; a family member who needs support from someone within the household; or one other person who needs support (for example, someone who lives alone, or another family member).
- A single-household bubble may extend care to children from another household for the purposes of informal daycare or online education support. This must be the same household bubble for as long as Level 3 is in effect.
- Public gatherings are not permitted, and gyms, entertainment centres, spas and salons are not allowed to operate.
- Restaurants may provide drive-thru, takeout and delivery only.
- Retail businesses may continue to remain open at 50 per cent capacity and with physical distancing measures in place. People are encouraged to use contactless curbside pickup and/or designate one person from the household to go shopping, if feasible, to reduce contacts.
- Faith venues may provide outdoor, virtual or in-car religious services only.
- Organized team sports are prohibited from games, competition and practice with people outside of a household bubble. Individual sports that can be conducted outdoors, such as skiing, skating and snowmobiling, are permitted as long as distancing is maintained from those outside of a household bubble. Buildings that support outdoor sports, such as ski lodges and warm-up shelters, must maintain 50 per cent capacity, distancing and masking. Food and drinks cannot be served. The government will be working with sports organizations to develop a plan to resume some form of play or practice for all ages when New Brunswick returns to Level 2.
- Masks must still be worn at all times in indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
“These measures are serious, and that is because we are facing a very serious situation,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “Our projections show that, if we all reduce our contacts by 30 per cent, we can lower the forecasted peak of hospitalizations from 220 to about 150. This will help offset the impact of staff shortages for those caring for hospitalized patients and for critical infrastructure staff.
“For the next two weeks, I ask all New Brunswickers to do their part. Please, stay within your single-household bubble, wear a well-fitted mask whenever you are in public, only go out in public for necessities, and book your booster dose if you are five months from your second dose, especially if you are 50 or older.”
The government also announced that the New Brunswick Travel Registration Program will no longer be in effect.
“This will allow enforcement officers with the Department of Justice and Public Safety to focus on ensuring individuals and businesses are in compliance with Level 3 measures,” said Higgs.
New Brunswick Small Business Recovery Grant extended
Opportunities NB is launching a third phase of the New Brunswick Small Business Recovery Grant program and extending it until the end of February. Eligible businesses can receive a one-time payment of up to $10,000.
Applications can be made online between Jan. 24 and Feb. 28.
More information, including application requirements, can be found by contacting Opportunities NB’s Business Navigators at email@example.com or 1-833-799-7966.
Public Health reported there are nine people in intensive care and another 95 in hospital for a total of 104 people hospitalized with COVID-19.
Of those currently hospitalized, 47 were admitted for reasons other than COVID-19. Seventy-eight per cent of those in ICU are either unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or it has been more than six months since their second dose. Of those in hospital, 76 are over 60 and three people are on a ventilator. Three people 19 and under are hospitalized. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
The rate of people hospitalized and in ICU continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated and those who are over six months from their second dose. Information about the rates of cases and hospitalizations based on vaccination status, the age and origin of new cases, and additional information, is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.
Four people have died as a result of COVID-19. A person 90 and over in Zone 1 (Moncton region), a person 60-69 in Zone 3 (Fredericton region), a person 50-59 and a person 80-89, both in Zone 4 (Edmundston region).
New emergency long-term care beds to alleviate pressure on health system
The Department of Social Development is currently working with long-term care home operators to create new emergency long-term care beds throughout the province as a short-term solution to help reduce pressure on the health-care system.
Emergency long-term care beds will be approved by Social Development, using vacant beds in long-term care facilities in the province, mainly in special care homes. These beds will provide alternate placements for patients who are waiting in hospitals until a bed in their preferred location becomes available.
The Department of Social Development will work with long-term care home operators to ensure the needs of clients are met. Residents occupying emergency long-term care beds will remain on waitlists for the facility of their choice.
“In this challenging time, we need to look at all possible options to make sure that we can all get through this together,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch. “We need to support each other, and we are asking family members to do everything they can to provide support to their loved ones, living at home or in a long-term care facility, where visitors are allowed.”
There are about 556 long-term care facilities in New Brunswick, including nursing homes, special care homes, memory care homes and community residences, with a total of 13,000 beds.
Update on schools
Public schools will extend at-home learning by one week to encompass the period of Level 3 restrictions. This means that students will not return to in-class learning until Monday, Jan. 31.
A small number of students who have been identified by schools and districts as being vulnerable or at risk will be able to continue learning in person.
Booster dose appointments
Public Health reported that, since Monday, Jan. 10, more than 26,500 appointments have been booked for booster doses of an mRNA vaccine. The booster dose is now available to everyone 18 and older, as long as five months have passed since their second dose.
Monday was the first opportunity for these newly eligible people to book an appointment online at vaccination clinics offered through Vitalité and Horizon health networks. Those unable to book an appointment online at a Horizon or Vitalité clinic, or who need assistance, may call 1-833-437-1424.
Upcoming technical updates to provincial immunization registry
A necessary system upgrade affecting the provincial immunization registry in the Public Health Information Solution will affect access to immunization records through the MyHealthNB website this weekend. From 11 p.m. on Friday until Monday, there will be a delay or limited access in displaying new immunization records and proof of vaccination documents.
People are reminded to download and print their proof-of-vaccination documents well before they are needed for travel or other purposes.
The registry upgrade will not affect access to PCR test results through MyHealthNB.
Rapid test and PCR results
The COVID-19 dashboard has been updated to include both PCR and rapid-test results.
People with COVID-19 symptoms are required to register online for a PCR test or rapid test under the provincial government’s testing strategy. Those who receive a positive rapid-test result are reminded to submit their result online through the self-reporting web portal.
These positive rapid (point-of-care) test results totals are based on information received by the Department of Health from the public and are not intended to be taken as a true representation of the total number of cases in the province.
All of New Brunswick is currently in the Level 2 phase of the winter plan to manage COVID-19. More information on the COVID-19 alert system, including guidance on public health measures, restrictions and the mandatory order, is available online.
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