The Saint John and Fredericton regions, Zone 2 and 3, will return to the less-restrictive orange phase at midnight on Tuesday night.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, made the announcement at Monday's live streamed update.
She also announced the province's 14th COVID-related death, an individual between the ages of 70 and 79 who was a resident of Parkland Saint John's Lily Court facility.
Another Lily Court resident also died last week, but this death is not being recorded as a COVID-related death, Russell said.
The spread of COVID-19 has slowed in the Fredericton and Saint John regions, Russell said in announcing the decision to return the two zones to the less-restrictive orange phase.
The change will occur at midnight Tuesday night rather than tonight to allow "a full seven days to pass" since the zones were moved to the red-alert level.
Under the orange phase, dine-in options are once again available at restaurants; gyms and hair salons can reopen; non-urgent medical procedures and elective surgeries are allowed, and masks remain mandatory in indoor spaces and at drive-thu windows.
A full list of orange phase rules can be found on the provincial government's website.
The Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi regions — Zones 5, 6 and 7 — could see a return to yellow from orange "in the coming days," but the Moncton region will stay in the more restrictive red phase and the Edmundston region will stay in full lockdown, Russell said.
Russell shares visuals of how COVID-19 spread
The province's cases and outbreaks are playing out differently.
But a series of graphics shared by Russell at Monday's COVID-19 update delivered that message in a starkly visual form.
The graphics show how COVID-19 spread in Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4, or the Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton and Edmundston regions.
In the graphics, each case is represented by a dot, and the lines between the dots show how the cases are connected.
That, Russell said, is the work that contact tracers do.
"If you see dots that aren't connected, then that illustrates that we're having issues."
In the Moncton region graphic, "you see a very large cluster of cases surrounded by several smaller clusters, which may be connected to the larger one," Russell said.
For example, if several people attended a holiday gathering where the coronavirus was present, then each passed it on to their family and friends, who then took it to their workplaces, to schools and into vulnerable settings.
The graphic of the Saint John region's spread shows two large clusters that overlap.
"There were gatherings involved and some of the outbreak is related to the Shannex long-term care facility," Russell said.
The Fredericton region graphic shows the coronavirus spread in home gatherings, into workplace settings, then to friends and families of workers in the workplace settings.
This is also an illustration of how it spreads in workplaces.
"Four cases in a workplaces spread to a cluster of two dozen additional cases among workers, family and friends," Russell said.
In Zone 4, where there has been an explosion of cases in the last two weeks, there is a noticeable number of cases not connected by any lines.
In this region, cases spread from a series of social gatherings into workplaces, including Nadeau Poultry plant and several long-term care homes.
"It's obvious from this image that we don't yet know how a lot of these cases are linked," Russell said. "That's one of the main reasons Zone 4 is now in lockdown."
Despite the differences in each of the graphics, Russell said, "They have this in common: the virus will spread at every opportunity if we let it.
"Too many of us let our guard down over the holidays, which is why we are where we are today. But on a daily basis, the actions we take can keep the second wave from getting worse."
Russell reiterated the importance of monitoring for symptoms, getting tested as quickly as possible, and self-isolating while awaiting test results and if found to be positive for COVID-19.
Updates on outbreaks in 3 Zone 4 care homes
Three special care homes in the Edmundston region, Zone 4, are currently experiencing outbreaks.
Russell provided an update on the situation at each of them.
Villa des Jardins: One staff member has tested positive. Testing of the facility's 81 residents and 22 staff began on Sunday and results are expected soon. There will be additional testing on Jan. 27.
Manoir Belle Vue: There were two screening test days, with positive cases found both times. In total, 21 residents and 12 staff members have tested positive so far. There will be another round of tests on Tuesday.
Le Pavillon Le Royer: There has been one confirmed positive case. Tests were conducted on Jan. 21 and all results were negative. Another round of tests was conducted on Monday and results are expected by Tuesday.
Shephard touts success of 'return-to-school' plan
New Brunswick has now had five days without a confirmed positive case in any school community, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said Monday.
"Since schools reopened after the holidays, 20 schools have been affected by confirmed cases, as well as seven early learning and childcare centres," Shephard said at the COVID-19 update. "Only eight schools are currently impacted, three of which are in the Edmundston region."
There are no longer any positive cases affecting child-care centres, and there have been no known cases of student-to-student transmission to date, Shephard said.
"Our return-to-school plan has proven to be successful time and time again," she said, adding that New Brunswickers' role in following Public Health measures will be crucial to its continued success.
A right and a wrong way to protest
A handful of protests over the weekend prompted a response from Health Minister Dorothy Shephard – and a reminder that "we have stepped up enforcement across the province" — at Monday's COVID-19 update.
Shephard singled out an anti-mask protest in Moncton on Sunday, where five people were charged with violating the Emergency Measures Act, and a protest in Quispmamsis on Saturday as examples of rule-flouting.
"The issue was not the protest," Shephard said. "People have the right to protest, and if they are doing so lawfully, we will support their right to do so ... that was the case in Woodstock this weekend, where protesters wore masks and maintained physical distancing."
However, she said, if people are not respecting the mandatory order and are putting the community at risk, "I know the police will take action."
27 new cases reported, most in Edmundston region
Public Health reported 27 new cases in four zones on Monday, with 19 of them in the Edmundston region, Zone 4. The cases break down in this way:
Moncton region, Zone 1, four cases:
an individual 40-49; and
three people 50-59.
Saint John region, Zone 2, one case:
an individual 19 or under.
Fredericton region, Zone 3, three cases:
two people 20-29;
and an individual 30-39.
Edmundston region, Zone 4, 19 cases:
an individual 30-39;
four people 40-49;
six people 50-59;
an individual 60-69;
an individual 70-79;
five people 80-89; and
an individual 90 or over.
All of the individuals are self-isolating and their cases are under investigation.
There are currently 348 active cases in the province, with six people in hospital, three of them in intensive care.
The number of confirmed cases is 1,151 and 788 have recovered. There have been 14 deaths. As of Monday, 187,710 tests have been conducted, including 1,774 since Sunday's report.
Public Health issues public exposure warning
Public Health has identified a potential public exposure to the virus at the following location in the Edmundston region, Zone 4:
Atlantic Superstore, 577 Victoria St., Edmundston, on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20 between 6 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:
A fever above 38 C.
A new cough or worsening chronic cough.
New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.
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.
Describe symptoms and travel history.