New Brunswick

Premier says May 1 possible date for lifting some restrictions

The province could lift some restrictions as soon as May 1, if the number of people testing positive remains low and recovery rates remain high, said Premier Blaine Higgs. 

As number of cases plateau, politicians on New Brunswick Political Panel talk about recovery

Premier Blaine Higgs says the case numbers over the next two weeks will influence decisions. (Office of the Premier)

The province could lift restrictions as soon as May 1, if the number of people testing positive remains low and recovery rates remain high, says Premier Blaine Higgs. 

Just under 10,000 people have been tested as of Friday. There are 117 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick. Eighty people have recovered.

"It all prefaces around a continuation of what we're seeing today in terms of new cases and recovered cases," Higgs said during a discussion on Information Morning on Friday with the COVID-19 committee of party leaders.

Air traffic and other modes of transportation into and out of the province would continue to be restricted, Higgs said. 

Removing some restrictions may lead to New Brunswick reopening its border with Prince Edward Island, which also has few cases in comparison to the rest of the country. 

"We may be able to work some joint arrangement." 

Green Party Leader David Coon agreed the government needs to be very careful about relaxing restrictions. 

He said the government needs to be sure that New Brunswick numbers are low and that there are enough test kits and the capacity to test before the province lets businesses start up again.

"We have to figure out how to live with this bloody virus," Coon said. 

Coon said recovery should focus on reviving the service industry and becoming more self-sufficient in food production.

"We need the necessary supports in order to enable our farmers to ramp up [production], particularly in areas like vegetable production."

Liberal Party Leader Kevin Vickers said he would like to have a post-pandemic summit, where politicians, business leaders and academics would meet to discuss recommendations for moving forward.

Higgs agreed a summit to hear from others about steps toward recovery would be a good idea.

"If you're trying to restart your economy, do you restart it by just getting everything back to normal, or do you restart it with the conditions and on a path that it's actually going to survive?" Higgs asked.

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin said it's possible there will be a silver lining in New Brunswick's response to the pandemic — a "redesigned" government. Things the province tried for years to accomplish, such as moving some seniors from hospital beds into nursing homes, were accomplished in two weeks because of the outbreak, he said.

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