FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is making mask-wearing mandatory in indoor public places beginning on Friday as the province battles a rise in COVID-19 infections.
Authorities said Thursday that along with the mask order, non-essential day trips into the province that had been allowed for residents of two Quebec border communities are prohibited.
The province reported three new infections Thursday, involving a person in their 40s in the Saint John region, a person in their 20s in the Fredericton area and someone in their 30s in the Campbellton area.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, said the new cases are not linked to the outbreak at the Notre-Dame Manor in Moncton, which is tied to 19 infections.
She said the Saint John and Fredericton cases are the result of travel outside Atlantic Canada, while she said the investigation into the Campbellton case continues.
Regarding the outbreak at the special-care home, Russell said three people are in hospital including one in intensive care.
"Ninety individuals beyond the manor residents and staff have been contacted through contact tracing," she told reporters in Fredericton. "This continues and the cause of the outbreak remains under investigation."
"Visiting is now prohibited at adult residential facilities in the Moncton region until further notice."
Russell said residents will be tested regularly, even those who have tested negative. She said the outbreak in Moncton demonstrates the second wave of COVID-19 is upon the province.
Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters the new measures were the result of a meeting earlier in the day of the all-party COVID cabinet committee.
He said the agreement that allowed non-essential day trips into the province from residents of Quebec's Listuguj First Nation and of Pointe-a-la-Croix is suspended.
Residents of those two border areas can continue to cross into the province for essential reasons, Higgs said, adding that students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will still be permitted into New Brunswick for school.
"We are protecting not only New Brunswick, but also have scrutiny on all travel moving through our province," Higgs said.
The premier said a survey last week of 600 public places in New Brunswick indicated about 36 per cent of people were wearing masks. In urban areas, he said, mask use was found to be as low as 16 per cent.
"These numbers are simply not acceptable," Higgs said.
Earlier in the day, authorities confirmed that an employee of a Moncton restaurant had tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.
Josee Vaillancourt, director of communications for Groupe St-Hubert Inc., confirmed the employee was symptom-free when she worked on Oct. 3 and 4 and was tested because a family member had been in contact with a confirmed case.
Russell said anyone who has visited the restaurant or the Optical Centre at the Moncton Costco since Oct. 1 should self-monitor for symptoms. Prince Edward Island health officials are also advising residents who visited the two businesses to monitor themselves for symptoms.
Russell issued an advisory Thursday for anyone who travelled on Air Canada flight 418 from Toronto to Montreal and Air Canada Flight 8792 from Montreal to Saint John, on Oct. 4. Those passengers should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, she said.
The latest cases bring the number of confirmed infections in New Brunswick to 225 since the pandemic started. There are 24 active cases, and there have been two deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2020.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press