Streak stretches to 33 days without a new case of COVID-19 in N.L.

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the province's streak to 33 days. 

The caseload remains 261. In total, 17,780 people have been tested as of Tuesday's update — 231 in the last 24 hours.

On the eve of Canada Day — and, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial Day — Health Minister John Haggie said the virus still exists, and the public should mark the day with care.

"COVID will not disappear simply because you've had your second beer," he said.

Watch the full June 30 update:

The province shifted into Alert Level 2, which saw the reopening of bars and nightclubs, five days ago, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said some of the decisions being made in the industry are not reflecting the science of infection prevention.

Fitzgerald said there were crowding and capacity issues at some bars this weekend, as well as dancing, despite dance floors being prohibited from being used in Level 2.

"My intention here is not to single out an industry, as I know most bar owners have been compliant with guidelines and indeed have provided very useful feedback to the public health team. But what I saw from this weekend has made me deeply concerned," she said.

"Public health officials, occupational health and safety officials, and others will remain vigilant in monitoring these situations to employee and public safety. I know everyone wants to let loose after being pent up for such a long time, but please remember, people: space, time, place."

Atlantic bubble

Fitzgerald also acknowledged some residents of the province are more nervous about the virus since the provincial government announced last week that Newfoundland and Labrador will join a "bubble" with the three other Atlantic provinces on Friday.

"These are challenging and uncertain times, and uncertainty breeds fear, there's no doubt about that," she said.

"But our choices must reflect the science and not our fears. We have trusted the science to get us to where we are today and we must continue to do so."

Fitzgerald said travel restrictions were implemented when COVID-19 was widespread in many provinces. Since then, she said, the prevalence across the country has dropped, particularly in Atlantic Canada. 

As of Tuesday there are four active cases — all in New Brunswick — in Atlantic Canada, which has a population of about 2.2 million people.

Marine Atlantic

Fitzgerald said a lot has been learned about the virus since March, including about protecting vulnerable populations, preventing the spread, testing and identifying the virus, contact tracing and quarantining, identifying patients that will need specialized care.

"We are in a very different place than we were in March, and even early May, and our health system is prepared," she said. 

"But our biggest weapon in the fight against COVID-19 is you, the public, and your understanding and acceptance in following public health measures."  

Under the Atlantic bubble, residents of the four Atlantic provinces will be able to cross provincial boundaries without having to self-isolate for 14 days, as residents of other provinces will still be required to do. 

Last week, Premier Dwight Ball said that if the Atlantic bubble works — namely, if there is no spike in new cases — the bubble may be expanded to other provinces. 

When asked why the province is opening its borders while still having some services not completely open, Fitzgerald said border measures are put in place in the least restrictive way possible and have to be supported by evidence.

"Right now the evidence, given the prevalence in those provinces, doesn't really support us keeping our borders closed because their epidemiology is as good as ours, really," she said. 

"Opening businesses, and making sure that we do that safely, and opening borders are not mutually exclusive of each other. They can happen at the same time, and certainly we have opened a lot of businesses, and there's not much left to open. I think we are making progress on both fronts, but we don't have to have one completely finished before another one can happen."

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