New Brunswick

New Brunswick adds border checkpoints to prevent spread of COVID-19

New Brunswick has set up screening checkpoints at provincial borders to control the spread of COVID-19, Premier Blaine Higgs announced Wednesday.

Unnecessary travel into the province is prohibited, Premier Blaine Higgs announces

There was a growing line of vehicles entering New Brunswick at the Quebec border in Campbellton Wednesday evening as an officer asked all motorists a series of questions to screen for COVID-19. (Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada)

New Brunswick has set up screening checkpoints at provincial borders to control the spread of COVID-19, Premier Blaine Higgs announced Wednesday.

The move comes as another eight cases of the viral infection have been confirmed, bringing the province's total to 26.

"Unnecessary travel is no longer permitted," Higgs said, citing as an example non-residents entering the province to socialize or shop.

Officers stationed at the Quebec, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. borders are authorized to turn people away, he said.

Anyone allowed into the province will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days, Higgs told reporters during the daily update in Fredericton.

Officers will collect the identity of those individuals, as well as their intended destination and contact information, he said.

The officers will also follow up to ensure compliance, even if the individuals are only travelling through New Brunswick to another province, the premier said.

Anyone who doesn't comply will receive a warning, followed by a fine of up to $10,000.

Neighbouring Nova Scotia and P.E.I. previously implemented similar restrictions at their borders.

Premier Blaine Higgs said police officers, firefighters, paramedics and members of the military will be among those exempt from the provincial border measures. (CBC)

New Brunswick's provincial border restrictions took effect Wednesday.

Around 5 p.m., Public Safety officers were directing traffic coming into Campbellton on the J.C. Van Horne Bridge from Quebec to a checkpoint, reported Radio-Canada's Serge Bouchard.

And by 6 p.m., there was a growing lineup of vehicles waiting for another officer to ask the occupants a series of questions to screen for COVID-19.

Commercial traffic and essential employees will be exempt, said Higgs.

"It is imperative we ensure our supply chain continues to work while keeping New Brunswickers healthy and safe," he said.

Impact could last 2 years

New Brunswick could be dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for another 18 to 24 months before a vaccine or other treatments are available, according to chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Russell.

"This is the most serious health challenge any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes," she said, urging everyone to stay home and self-isolate as much as possible.

Higgs said the government realizes not everyone entering the province who is ordered to self-isolate for 14 days can afford to do so.

It's partnering with the Canadian Red Cross, which can assist people in accessing a wide range of supports and services, he said.

Nova Scotia was screening motorists entering the province at the New Brunswick border earlier this week and now New Brunswick will do the same for any motorists coming from Nova Scotia, Quebec or P.E.I. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Federal restrictions on non-essential travel between New Brunswick and the U.S. took effect last Friday at midnight, for at least 30 days. U.S. border traffic into the province has already dropped 90 per cent, Higgs has said.

In Nova Scotia, checkpoints have sprung up at every major entry point into the province in recent days, including highways, airports and ferry terminals.

Provincial staff are telling travellers to self-isolate for 14 days, no matter where they're coming from. Those who fail to obey the isolation order could be fined $1,000 per day. Some travellers are exempt, including truckers, medical staff and other essential personnel.

P.E.I. has screening checkpoints set up at the Confederation Bridge, Charlottetown airport and Souris ferry terminal.

Fines for those found to be in violation of the self-isolation orders start at $1,000 for the first offence, $2,000 for the second offence and $10,000 for the third and subsequent offences.

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