New Brunswickers adapt to stricter COVID-19 restrictions as case numbers grow

·4 min read
As the province experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases, stronger regulations are being brought in to tackle the fourth wave. Proof of vaccination and mandatory masking for indoor public spaces are among the safety measures.   (narongpon chaibot/Shutterstock - image credit)
As the province experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases, stronger regulations are being brought in to tackle the fourth wave. Proof of vaccination and mandatory masking for indoor public spaces are among the safety measures. (narongpon chaibot/Shutterstock - image credit)

Mallory Kelly is the manager of The Tipsy Muse Café in Fredericton and says navigating the province's new COVID-19 measures while being in the green phase has been an adjustment.

"We've had a lot of questions at cash about whether people are allowed to sit out on the patio and if they should still have to show their proof of vaccine," said Kelly.

"We're just kind of trying to figure out what this looks like, despite the fact that we are back in green phase and all these new rules are coming back into place."

Mrinali Anchan/CBC
Mrinali Anchan/CBC

Effective Tuesday at 11:59 p.m., the province brought in new pandemic regulations following a surge in COVID-19 cases during September.

On Wednesday, the province reported 76 new cases, which brings the number of active cases to 557, which is the highest number of active cases ever recorded in New Brunswick.

The new regulations include requiring New Brunswickers over the age of 12 to show proof of full vaccination and government identification when accessing certain events, services and businesses, along with mandatory masking in all public indoor spaces now required.

Places where proof of vaccination are required include:

  • Indoor festivals, performing arts and sporting events

  • Indoor and outdoor dining and drinking at restaurants, pubs and bars

  • Movie theatres, nightclubs, amusement centres, pool halls, bowling alleys and casinos

  • Gyms, indoor pools and indoor recreation facilities

  • Indoor group exercise facilities

  • Indoor organized gatherings, including weddings, funerals, parties (excluding parties in a private dwelling), conferences and workshops

  • Indoor organized group recreational sports, classes and activities.

  • Visiting a long-term care facility.

Mrinali Anchan/CBC
Mrinali Anchan/CBC

Mandatory masking is required in the following places and situations:

  • Public spaces where the public and employees interact, such as retail businesses, malls, service centres, places of worship, and restaurants and bars except while eating.

  • Organized indoor gatherings in public spaces, such as weddings and funerals.

  • Common areas like lobbies, elevators and hallways, and public shared spaces, including those in the private sector and government workspaces.

  • Public transportation.

Those people entering the province must pre-register through the New Brunswick Travel Registration Program, which is once again active.

After the regulations came into effect, Mallory said she did notice a slight dip in the number of people who usually come into the café on Wednesdays but she expects people to adjust quickly.

"It's stuff that we've all seen before...Most people are are pretty used to it and OK with putting back on the masks and hand sanitizing."

So far, Kelly said she and other staff members have not had any complaints or confrontations about asking for proof of vaccination when customers come up to order at the cash register.

Celine Perley said the proof of vaccination process was fairly straight-forward when coming in to dine at the café.

"I just made sure I took a picture of the vaccine record and then I just showed that and the ID, so it was actually a lot better than I thought it would be."

Mixed reaction

In Moncton, Fit4Less gym attendee Roger Herman said the measures are a good step in ensuring more people are vaccinated.

"I know it's not really the right thing to do to force people to get vaccinated, but at the same time, when we are looking at the worldwide pandemic, it is pretty much, I believe, essential."

Herman said the process of visiting the gym was smooth, as he was asked to present proof of vaccination and whether he had a mask.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

Victoria Ohsberg, who also attends the gym, acknowledges that talking about vaccination status can be a charged conversation at times, but she feels a sense of comfort knowing that other patrons are vaccinated.

She is also concerned about whether business owners and staff will have the bear the brunt of enforcing the regulations.

"I feel bad for [staff]. Hopefully, they don't get too much drama added to their jobs. Customer service is hard enough as it is," said Ohsberg.

Shifting business model

Businesses in the province are taking on a variety of approaches to the provinces new regulations, especially in the food service industry.

The bakery Buttercream Dreams Fredericton has moved to offering only takeout for customers and asks that they call the shop for any orders.

Similarly, the Dixie Lee Family Restaurant located in Campbellton has closed it's physical dining space and is now offering takeout only.

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