New Brunswick

N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Higgs urges Trudeau to keep federal borders closed

If Ottawa chooses to reopen the Canada-U.S. border, Premier Blaine Higgs said people from Maine can come into the province, but only if they self-isolate for two weeks to prevent any new cases of COVID-19 coming into the province.

There are 2 new active cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region

Premier Blaine Higgs is asking the federal government to keep borders closed with the United States. (CBC)

Latest

  • 2 new active cases of COVID-19
  • Part 2 of yellow phase put on hold
  • Some recycling depots to reopen next week 
  • What to do if you have symptoms

If Ottawa chooses to reopen the Canada-U.S. border, Premier Blaine Higgs said people from Maine can come into the province but only if they self-isolate for two weeks.

Higgs has been pushing back against the possibility of the Canada-U.S. border reopening for family and friends living in border communities.

"It isn't something [like] I'm coming across the border and spending a couple of days or a couple of hours … on the New Brunswick side," Higgs said of what might possibly be allowed.

"It's actually a visit that would be two weeks in an isolated setting, so our quarantine provisions could be readily followed."

Higgs raised his concerns on a call Thursday night with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, where he and other premiers learned the border might be reopened soon for people for families and friends living right next to it. 

"This needs to be a collective decision and that was my emphasis last night," Higgs said Friday in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton. 

At a news briefing later in the day, Higgs said he received a call from Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, which he said was reassuring.

They talked about how the protocol being developed for U.S. travellers coming into the province would require something like an application process.

Higgs told CBC News he was hoping the reopening of the border with Maine would be delayed, especially since New Brunswick is seven hours away from from Boston, and 10 hours away from New York, which both have thousands of COVID-19 cases.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the closing of the border at the end of March, which was later extended for 30 days on May 19.

The province has announced two new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total number of active cases to eight. (CBC News)

Higgs has been adamant about keeping New Brunswick closed to Maine and other provinces during the pandemic. He has also been encouraging New Brunswickers to explore their own province over the summer months to boost tourism and help local businesses.

He said his understanding after the call with the prime minister was that the reopening just for border friends and families could come in the next few weeks or even days.

"It puts me in a very difficult position," he said.

Higgs said Trudeau assured him specific criteria would be outlined for people living along the border, but those those details were not provided.

"I just asked for a full understanding of the protocol."

Trudeau confirmed later Friday that the federal government is looking at allowing family members of Canadian citizens on either side of the border to reunite, but he told reporters it would be under "strict conditions."

He said he'll continue to discuss changes at the border with premiers.

"There are a number of premiers who feel that, for reasons of compassion, we should and could move forward with this measure. There are others that expressed a certain amount of concern about it," he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with reporters on Friday. 1:45

"We will continue to engage with them. We will continue to look into this matter and ensure that no matter what we do, we are keeping the safety and well-being of Canadians at the forefront of any decision."

2 new active cases of COVID-19

Public Health reported two new cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region, bringing the total number of active cases to eight.  

One person is in their 30s and the other in their 60s, and one of them is an individual working in a long-term care facility.30s

The six earlier cases included two health-care workers, two individuals under 19 and two in their 90s. 

Two of the active cases are under intensive care in the hospital.

The cluster of cases comes after a doctor who contracted the coronavirus outside the province didn't self-isolate when he returned.

Dr. Jennifer Russell calls for people to reserve judgment until an investigation into an outbreak in Campbellton linked to a doctor who didn't self-isolate is complete. 12:15

Until last week, New Brunswick had no active cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. All 120 people infected since the pandemic reached number in March had recovered.

Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday that the province will see more cases.

"The challenge we're going to have is can we contain it in this region?" he said.

The Campbellton region is back in the orange phase of economic recovery from the shutdown that formally began March 19 when a state of emergency was declared. The orange phase means non-regulated health professionals like acupuncturists cannot operate. Residents in the area can have a two-household bubble only. 

Officials from WorkSafeNB and the Department of Public Safety are in the Campbellton region to ensure compliance.

"They will closely monitor and assess the situation in the days ahead," the province said in a news release.

To date, 24,169 tests have been conducted in New Brunswick. 

Part 2 of yellow phase put on hold

The province has halted its yellow COVID-19 recovery phase, stopping gyms, pools, yoga studios and other businesses from reopening Friday and not allowing indoor church services or gatherings up to 50 as was planned.

The province was expected to move into part two of the yellow phase by the end of the week. But Premier Blaine Higgs announced Thursday that the COVID-19 committee was putting a pause on that because of a cluster of six new active cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region.

Gyms in New Brunswick are about to reopen after three months of closure. What adjustments have they made to keep members safe? 2:35

Higgs said Friday he's hopeful the province will be able to move into part two of its yellow recovery phase in the next week or two.

Activities that now won't be allowed until next Friday include:

  • Outdoor public gatherings of 50 people or fewer.
  • Indoor religious services, including weddings and funerals, of 50 people or fewer.
  • Low-contact team sports.
  • Swimming pools, saunas and waterparks
  • Yoga, gyms and dance studios
  • Rinks and indoor recreational facilities
  • Pool halls and bowling alleys

Some recycling depots to reopen next week 

The Fundy Regional Service Commission said blue recycling depots will start to reopen from Monday to Saturday next week. 

Residents are reminded to physically distance while using the dropoff sites for their paper, cardboard, metal and plastic containers, the commission said in a news release.

Recycling depots located around Saint John and in the rural regions closed in mid-March  because of 
COVID 19, and recyclables were sent to the landfill. as the sorting facility at Crane Mountain
Landfill was closed.

In Fredericton, the recycling depot at the landfill has also been reopened.

What to do if you have symptoms

People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment on the government website at gnb.ca. 

Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: a fever above 38 C, a new cough or worsening chronic cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, new onset of fatigue, new onset of muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell, and difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.

People with two of those symptoms are asked to:

  • Stay at home.

  • Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor.

  • Describe symptoms and travel history.

  • Follow instructions.

About the Author

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

With files from Information Morning Fredericton, Catharine Tunney

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now