FREDERICTON — Starting next week, New Brunswick will require people to produce proof of COVID-19 vaccination to access services such as indoor festivals, bars, restaurants and gyms in an effort to combat rising infections in the province.
The new health order will enter into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 21, Premier Blaine Higgs said Wednesday.
Also next week, travellers to New Brunswick or residents returning to the province will have to pre-register and show proof of vaccination. Starting Wednesday, travellers with only one dose will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. They can stop isolating if they receive a negative COVID-19 test after Day 10.
The rules were imposed as health officials reported 63 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, Higgs said.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said the province was on a trajectory for 100 new cases a day. She also reported another death attributed to the novel coronavirus. Russell offered her condolences and said there have been 48 COVID-19-related deaths in the province since the onset of the pandemic.
There are 293 active reported cases of COVID-19 in the province and 12 patients are in hospital with the disease, including seven in intensive care.
"COVID-19 is spreading broadly across our province and it is spread among the unvaccinated," Russell said. "We can reverse this trend if everyone who can be vaccinated rolls up their sleeve immediately."
Russell said she is no longer just asking people to get vaccinated, she's pleading.
About 77.2 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 85.7 per cent have received at least one dose.
Higgs said while vaccination levels continue to rise, they are not rising fast enough.
He said people will need to provide proof of vaccination and a government-issued ID to access certain services. "In approximately a month, we expect to have a QR code people can show on their phone to make it easier for New Brunswickers to provide proof of vaccination," he said.
Any individual or business that fails to follow the new regulations may be subject to fines ranging between $172.50 and $772.50.
Higgs said that while the new rules will be inconvenient, that's the objective.
"If life is a little more difficult for those that choose not to be vaccinated at a time when other lives are threatened because of it, just maybe the decision will be made: 'OK it's time,'" he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2021.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press