New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and tourism operators are applauding the federal government's decision to reopen Canada's borders to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents for leisure travel, with no need to self-isolate, starting Aug. 9.
The Monday announcement is welcome news to the operators who haven't seen U.S. travellers since March 2020, when a ban on non-essential travel was imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19, said Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick.
The border shutdowns were "devastating" to tourism operators across the province, she said. In 2020, all operators reported 50 per cent to 100 per cent less revenue, and at least 10 members went out of business.
"There's no way we could have survived another year like that," Alderdice told CBC's Information Morning Fredericton.
Fishing and hunting outfitters in particular have "really struggled" because about 90 per cent of their customers are from the U.S., she said. "So this is extremely good news for them."
On Sept. 7, provided case numbers remain low, fully vaccinated travellers from the rest of the world will also be allowed to enter Canada without having to quarantine for two weeks.
She expects to see people from England, France, Germany and other countries come to see the beautiful fall colours.
It will be another boost for tourism operators who have seen an uptick in visitors now that provincial borders are open, said Alderdice.
New Brunswick's decision last month to allow Canadians who have at least one dose of vaccine to come with no isolation or testing required has made "a big difference," she said.
"I know in different parts of the province, like the Acadian Peninsula, there's been a lot of Quebecers travelling, and Ontario and Nova Scotia licence plates, everybody's pretty excited about that. It's the same in the south as well.
"So I think we're going we're going to have a much better summer than we originally thought, when we thought the borders wouldn't open until September."
Alderdice suspects it could take two or three years for the industry to recover from the pandemic, based on all the loans operators had to get.
"Destination Canada was saying if Canada has a good year, it could be 2023. And if they don't, it could be as far as 2024 or 2025."
But the industry is resilient, she said, and "we're starting to see that we're going to be OK."
Nearly 60% fully vaccinated
Nearly 60 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as of Tuesday morning, and nearly 81 per cent have had at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the COVID-19 dashboard.
Another 12,974 doses have been registered as administered, including 11,219 second doses. That bumped the two-dose vaccination rate up to 59.7 per cent from 58.1 per cent on Monday, after what appeared to be a slow weekend.
The Department of Health said Monday that data from vaccination clinics can take up to 48 hours to be reported to Public Health and displayed on the COVID-19 dashboard.
"This has been the case since we started the [vaccination] campaign," department spokesperson Shawn Berry said in an email.
It's unclear whether all of those were administered on Monday or whether some were administered over the weekend and were late being reported.
The province's goal under the path to green is to have 75 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older fully vaccinated by Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day.
Once the threshold is reached, the province will end the state of emergency mandatory order and lift all Public Health restrictions, provided COVID hospitalizations remain low and all health regions remain at the yellow COVID alert level.
Another 1,555 first doses have also been registered as administered, pushing the one-dose vaccination rate to 80.7 per cent, up from 80.4 per cent.
"Thousands of first and second dose Pfizer and Moderna appointments have been opened for vaccinations through regional health authority clinics and participating pharmacies," Public Health said in a news release Tuesday, citing an increased supply.
Vaccination clinics are taking place every day this week with appointments available in each region, it said.
New Brunswickers aged 12 and older who have yet to be immunized with two doses of vaccine are encouraged to book an appointment online through a Horizon or Vitalité health network clinic or through a participating pharmacy.
People are eligible for their second dose 28 days after their first. If at the time of their first dose they were given an appointment with a longer interval, they can bump up their second dose by rescheduling online or contacting the pharmacy, Public Health advised.
The province is also holding more mobile walk-in clinics this week to help make getting first and second doses more convenient. The clinics are offering Moderna.
A clinic is underway Tuesday in Clair at the Saint-Francois-d'Assise church, at 678 Rue Principale, between noon and 6 p.m.
The other clinics being held this week include:
Village of Gagetown — Recreation Centre, 38 Mill Rd., on Wednesday, between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska — Municipal Hall, 75 Rue Prinicipale, on Wednesday, between noon and 6 p.m.
Kedgwick — La Salle du Citoyen, 4 Saint-Jean St., on Thursday, between noon and 6 p.m.
Southampton — Middle Southampton Community Hall, 1782 Campbell Settlement Rd., off Route 105, on Thursday, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
St. Martins — Four Seasons Complex, 2551 Route 111, on Friday, between noon and 5 p.m.
Saint-Léonard — Ambulance New Brunswick station, 523 St-Jean St., Unit A, on Friday, between noon and 6 p.m.
People are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for those receiving a second dose, a copy of the record of immunization they received after getting their first dose.
Anyone who booked an appointment but was able to get vaccinated sooner elsewhere is asked to cancel the appointment they no longer need.
7 active cases
New Brunswick has seven active cases of COVID-19, Public Health reported Tuesday.
No one is hospitalized with the respiratory disease.
New Brunswick has had 2,346 confirmed cases of COVID during the pandemic. There have been 2,292 recoveries so far and 46 COVID-related deaths.
A total of 374,318 tests have been conducted, including 747 on Monday.
Atlantic COVID roundup
Nova Scotia did not provide an update on COVID-19 cases Tuesday and due to a scheduled upgrade to the province's digital health information system, data from the COVID-19 dashboard was unavailable. As of Monday, there were seven active cases.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and has no active cases, according to the latest update from the Department of Health, despite 49 active cases aboard three ships, one anchored in Bay Bulls and two anchored in Conception Bay.
P.E.I. has had no active cases since July 13.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms of the illness have included a fever above 38 C, a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, a new onset of fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should stay at home, call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor, and follow instructions.