New Brunswick's Green party leader renews calls for isolation, mask restrictions

With six people in hospital, four of them in an intensive care, New Brunswick's Green party leader, David Coon, says it’s time the province reconsiders public health restrictions as the country battles the fourth wave of COVID-19.

He’s specifically calling for the return of mandatory masks indoors and isolation requirements for unvaccinated visitors to the province.

“All we have to do is look around us. We can look out west to Alberta, where they have a tremendous number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions, we could look into the States, we could look at Europe,” he said. “The fourth wave is underway and for some reason the premier is behaving as if New Brunswick is an island unto itself. Which, just because he said mission accomplished, will be untouched by the fourth wave and that’s not responsible.”

Premier Blaine Higgs nor the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, have released any kind of threshold or measurement for how they gauge if it’s time for restrictions to return.

The New Brunswick Medical Society doesn’t believe the province is at that point, yet.

“Our case count has not gone up dramatically, a little,” said Dr. Jeff Steeves. “Our hospitalizations have gone up a little but still very manageable.”

Steeves says he would like to know what public health would consider the right time for a return of restrictions.

“It would be nice to know what would the threshold be, so that we could be reassured. I assume they’re watching closely. If we were told the numbers then, we would certainly know that for sure,” he said.

Fredericton’s Chamber of Commerce says its members have different opinions on the topic.

“It’s up to each individual business as to their level of comfort and how they want to move forward in their own business,” said CEO Krista Ross. “But what we really need to be focused on is doing what we can as individuals, as businesses and as a community to keep everybody safe. And to ensure that businesses continue to be able to be open.”  

She says the Chamber has handed out over 10,000 rapid COVID-19 testing kits to businesses in the city over the last month – an added peace-of-mind for staff and customers.

Reaction on social media to the question is as usual - mixed.

One user said they have a child under 12 and "completely supports" Coon’s call for more restrictions.

Another said politicians should let Russell make recommendations on what public health measures should be implemented.

Several others disagreed altogether and say they want to remain free to make their own decisions.