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.
All of the cases are linked to a medical professional in his 50s from the Campbellton Regional Hospital who contracted COVID-19 outside the province.
At a news briefing Thursday, Higgs also extended the province's state of emergency, which has been in effect since the end of March, for another two weeks.
Higgs said 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 and dance studios
- Rinks and indoor recreational facilities
- Pool halls and bowling alleys
The first stage of the yellow phase was announced last Friday, allowing businesses such as spas, tattoo artists, barbers and hair salons to reopen.
"This is a reminder that the disease is still with us and we must all remain vigilant to ensure it does not overwhelm our health-care system," Higgs said.
Higgs announced Wednesday that the Campbellton region, also known as Zone 5, has returned to the more restrictive orange phase of recovery because of the new cases.
Business owner 'frustrated and angry'
Cara Hazelton, owner of Precision Pilates in Fredericton, said she was "absolutely frustrated and angry beyond any measure" after learning she would have to wait another week to reopen her business.
Hazelton said she and thousands of other businesses in the yellow phase, have spent weeks preparing to reopen in part two of the yellow phase.
She said clients have been called, appointments have been made, staff have been rehired and childcare has been arranged.
"All of sudden at the drop of a hat with no notice that for the second week in a row we have been shut down through no fault of our own," she said.
"How many times are we going to have to go through this in the next two years?"
Although she feels her business is safe and can stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, she's not sure how others will survive.
"How many businesses that have survived the last two months will survive bouncing up and down between opening and closing?" she said.
"I fail to understand how this is actually going to work in the long run."
Hazelton said she's given up planning for a concrete date for her business to reopen because it takes time, costs extra money and leads to further disappointment.
"I can't let down my staff again," she said. "I can't let my clients down again. That's not fair."