New Brunswick moves Saint John area to orange phase as 9 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday

WATCH: N.B. Public Health announced Friday that Saint John will transition back to the orange phase of COVID-19 recovery as the province sees a rise in cases. Callum Smith reports.

New Brunswick health officials will move the Saint John region to the orange level of the province’s coronavirus recovery plan as the number of cases in the region has doubled in the past two days.

The decision comes a day after the Moncton region was also moved to the orange phase following a recommendation from Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health.

Russell said the province was asking people to limit contacts to their own family bubbles.

“It is vitally important that everyone in zone two reduce their close contacts and follow all public health guidance,” Russell said. “This is a virus that will spread exponentially if unchecked.”

Premier Blaine Higgs said it was important to get the outbreak in the Saint John region under control quickly or it might be necessary to move at some point to the red alert stage

Orange phase for Saint John and Moncton areas

The orange phase of the recovery plan means that only a single household bubble is permitted. That single household can be extended to caregivers or immediate family members requiring support.

The province has also modified its existing guidance for the orange phase.

The revised rules mean that outdoor gatherings with physical distancing are permitted with 25 people or fewer.

Faith venues can operate under an approved COVID-19 operation plan but the province says that in-person services are limited to 50 participants or fewer depending on the size of the facility.

Read more:
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Unregulated health professionals, barbers, hair stylists and spas may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan. They must actively screen patrons, have enhanced barriers and closed waiting rooms.

Gyms and fitness facilities may also operate under a COVID-19 operation plan although physical distancing of two metres and masks are mandatory for “low-intensity fitness classes” such as yoga, tai chi and stretching.

For high-intensity activities such as spin, aerobics and boot camps, that physical distancing must be extended to three metres.

Entertainment venues such as casinos, bingo halls, arcades and cinemas may operate under a COVID-19 operations plan although occupancy limits are set at 50 patrons or fewer, depending on the size of the venue.

On Friday the province reported nine new cases in New Brunswick, seven of which are located in Saint John. There are now 51 active cases in the province.

Russell also declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Tucker Hall on the Shannex campus in Saint John.

A single case was confirmed at the facility at Tucker Hall on Thursday.

Although there are 90 residents located at Tucker Hall, Russell said that all residents and staff at the entire Shannex complex — totalling more than 400 people — are being tested for COVID-19 Friday.

Russell said 600 people were currently self-isolating across New Brunswick, including 300 in the Saint John area alone

Read more:
New Brunswick issues COVID-19 exposure warning for 2 restaurants in Saint John

N.B. reaches 400-plus cumulative cases

There have been 401 cases in the province since the pandemic began, 344 of which are considered to be resolved at this time.

The seven cases in the Saint John area are one person between the ages of 20 to 29, three people between the ages of 40 to 49, one person between the ages of 50 and 59, one individual between the ages of 60 to 69 and one person between the ages of 70 and 79.

There were also two cases reported in Moncton on Friday. They include an individual under the age of 19 and a person between the ages of 20 to 29.

Russell also told the media on Friday that there is one person in the hospital but that no one is in intensive care at this time.

There have been six deaths as a result of the coronavirus.

New Brunswick has completed 114,020 COVID-19 tests.

Russell and Higgs have repeatedly advised New Brunswickers to significantly limit travel outside of the Atlantic region, even for the holiday season, as well as limit travel in and out of the orange zones in the province.

With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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