FREDERICTON — New Brunswick moved into the next phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan on Friday, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen while permitting people to expand their social "bubbles" to include close friends and family.
The "yellow level" of the province's recovery plan, to be rolled out in stages over the next several weeks, will eventually allow churches, gyms, bowling alleys and yoga studios to reopen their doors.
"We have all been a part of achieving this, and I want to thank all New Brunswickers for the continued co-operation and patience," Premier Blaine Higgs said.
Starting Friday, non-regulated medical services along with personal service businesses such as beauty salons and tattoo parlours will be allowed to reopen. More businesses and services will resume in waves over the next few weeks.
Effective immediately, New Brunswickers can also form so-called "bubbles" with up to 10 family and friends.
"You can now spend time with close friends and family members who you would normally see on a regular basis," Higgs said. "We are asking you to keep your circle of friends and family as small and reasonable as possible, especially if you have a vulnerable person in your family, or a child who attends daycare."
Starting May 29, additional public gatherings of 50 people or fewer will be allowed as long as there is physical distancing.
As well, swimming pools, saunas, water parks, gyms, yoga and dance studios, rinks, pool halls and bowling alleys will be able to open.
Also starting May 29, temporary foreign workers will be allowed to enter the province — something Higgs confirmed Friday.
The government had imposed a ban on those workers last month as part of tighter border restrictions aimed at keeping the virus from coming into the province.
"We are still prioritizing the safety of New Brunswickers, but as we restart our economy we also have to find ways to meet the needs of the agriculture and seafood sectors. Our plan was always to allow temporary foreign workers into the province once it was safe to do so," Higgs said.
The ban caused an uproar among farmers who said the shortage of workers would force them to limit what they plant this year, and fish processors who said they would have to turn away some of the lobster they would normally buy.
The temporary foreign workers will still have to be quarantined for 14 days once they arrive in New Brunswick.
On Friday, Martin Mallet, executive director of the Maritime Fishermen's Union, said lifting the ban now is a bit late.
"The fishing season is short. It is finishing at the end of June. By the time these people come in and have a two-week quarantine, you're looking at mid-June before they can be up and running. The season is almost done by then," he said.
As the final part of the yellow phase, overnight camps will be allowed to open on June 19.
The move to the next phase comes a day after the province reported its first new case of COVID-19 in almost two weeks.
The case reported Thursday in the Campbellton region in northern New Brunswick involves a person under the age of 19.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said a daycare in that region has been closed until further notice, and family and staff have been notified.
"This is a timely reminder that as far as we have come, we still have a long way to go," Russell said.
"We have to continue to move very carefully because this is a global pandemic and until the global pandemic is over, we are going to be in this position," she said.
There were no new cases Friday, leaving the total to date at 121 cases, with 120 of them recovered.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2020.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press