FREDERICTON â€” New Brunswick is setting up isolation hotels where most people travelling into the province will have to stay at their own expense for at least seven days.
Premier Blaine Higgs made the announcement Friday in light of increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases across the province. Higgs blamed many of the cases on travel.
“Effective at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, all leisure and non-essential travellers, every person approved to move to New Brunswick, and all business travellers who are not rotational workers, truckers or commuters will be required to isolate for at least the first seven days of their 14-day isolation in an isolation hotel at their own expense,” Higgs said.
A negative test for COVID-19 would allow them to complete a second week of isolation at home. The test would be done on Day 5 with the results known on Day 7. Another test would be done on Day 10.
Isolation hotels will be located in Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbellton and Woodstock. There are no isolation hotels in the Edmundston, N.B., area, which remains under lockdown.
The hotels will be co-ordinated by the Canadian Red Cross, which will also arrange meals and provide security. The cost is expected to be about $200 per day.
New Brunswick truck drivers and residents who regularly travel outside the province for work will need to stay at home when they return to the province and only leave for essential reasons. After 14 days at home, truckers and commuters can circulate freely in the community.
Rotational workers, however, must self-isolate for 14 days when they return home.
Students returning to New Brunswick this weekend from a COVID-19 hot spot such as Halifax will have to self-isolate for 14 days, but those returning after Sunday night at midnight will have to isolate in a hotel at the province’s expense.
“We are seeing what is happening in Ontario right now, where health-care professionals are being forced to make heartbreaking choices about who receives care and who doesn't,” Higgs said. “We can't let that happen here.”
New Brunswick is also increasing the minimum fine for anyone found guilty of violating health orders. It will increase from $292.50 to $580.50.
Higgs said he expects the new health order to remain in effect until at least late May, adding that anyone who doesn’t need to come to New Brunswick right now should stay away.
“If you can delay your move to our province by a month or so, then please do so,” he said. “If you don’t need to travel, stay at home. If you are currently at a resort in Florida and are able to stay there for another month, please do so. The risk to you and everyone you come into contact with is simply too high.”
Health officials reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 in the province Friday, bringing the number of active cases to 138. Eleven of the new cases involve New Brunswick workers who are currently isolating outside the province.
The government has decided that high school students will not return to full-time, in-person learning this school year.
Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Friday that people 30 and older can get a shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
New Brunswick chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said New Brunswick will continue to offer that vaccine to people over the age of 55. She said the province isn’t expecting another shipment of AstraZeneca until late May.
Higgs said he informed Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday that 27 medical professionals have volunteered to help Ontario for a two-week period. Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had issued the call for help to deal with rising COVID-19 numbers in Ontario.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press