New Brunswick

New Brunswick details outdoor mask rules for Moncton, Campbellton areas

New Brunswick has clarified how a new rule requiring how the use of face masks in many outdoor spaces will apply in two parts of the province facing COVID-19 outbreaks.

Some exceptions for places like the yards of single-family homes

Masks are mandatory in most indoor public spaces in New Brunswick, as well as some outdoor ones. (Narongpon Chaibot/Shutterstock)

New Brunswick has clarified when and where people in the Moncton and Campbellton regions must wear face masks while outdoors.

"We're really trying to contain things aggressively," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference Monday.

"Having people masked indoors and outdoors, that means it's continuous, everyone is protecting each other and we do know even though people can be mingling outdoors, they don't necessarily always physically distance."

The rule was first announced Friday for the Campbellton and Moncton health zones, but no details were initially provided. It was announced as the province moved both regions back to the "orange" recovery phase that limits what businesses can open, the size of gatherings, but allows two households to bubble together.

An updated version of the province's emergency declaration order was issued Monday. The order says masks are mandatory in outdoor locations where people can gather, such as streets, sidewalks, public squares, parks, playgrounds, markets, festival sites, dog parks and walking trails. 

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, says use of the masks outdoors depends on whether there are other people nearby. (Submitted by the Province of New Brunswick)

Masks aren't required in the yard of a single-family home.

It's also not required while walking, jogging, running, cycling, or at rest alone or with a member of their household bubble. However, if a person is to likely come within two metres of someone from outside their bubble, they must wear a mask.

"If there's no one near you, you don't really need to wear the mask," Russell said in French. 

"In the orange regions, it's very important that if you're in doubt, wear the mask. That's the safest thing to do."

The new rule was implemented a day after New Brunswick ordered masks to become mandatory in most indoor public spaces across the province, which is similar to the rule in Nova Scotia.

Montreal-based epidemiologist Dr. Nimâ Machouf told Radio-Canada on Sunday that masks are helpful when people are close together. But Machouf said there's a lower risk outside when people aren't close together and the wind can carry the coronavirus away.

Epidemiologist Dr. Nimâ Machouf, shown in a file photo, says face masks are useful when people are close together and inside. (Laurent Boursier/Radio-Canada)

"Asking for things that are not necessary, in my opinion, is not adequate to keep the world attentive to the fight against COVID," Machouf said.

The president of the New Brunswick Medical Society said the group representing physicians across the province supports the new rule.

"The steps we take today will influence how our province manages the community spread of COVID-19," Dr. Jeff Steeves said in a statement Monday. "Practising hand hygiene, wearing masks, physical distancing and adhering to public health recommendations are ways to minimize the spread of the virus."

As of Monday, there are 76 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick. Five people are in hospital, one of which is in an intensive care unit.

There are 40 people sick in the Moncton health zone and 32 more in the Campbellton area. There are two cases each in the Fredericton and Saint John health zones.

Many of the Moncton cases are linked to an outbreak at the Manoir Notre-Dame special care home. The outbreak at the home with about 110 residents was declared last week.

There have been 278 cases in the province since March. Two people have died.

With files from Radio-Canada

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