'We're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,' New Brunswickers sense return to normal is close
With Monday quickly approaching, the countdown to New Brunswick's 75 per cent vaccination goal to gradually reopen the province is in its final days. While hopeful the province will make the switch to the first phase of the Path to Green, many New Brunswickers are cautiously optimistic of what Monday may bring.
"Setting targets is good, setting dates is good. Sometimes it may lead to false expectations, however, ultimately, we will get there," said Sackville mayor-elect, Shawn Mesheau.
Mesheau says living in a border town means he's been paying close attention to whether the province will get the green light to begin the reopening plan.
"We have folks who are working in Amherst and surrounding areas ... same as folks that are working in that area of ns, that are working over here ... to be able to get back to some sense of being able to cross that border without restrictions will be so important to us," said Mesheau.
Essential workers, including truck drivers, are also looking forward to the idea of seamless border crossings, once again. With current COVID-19 regulations, truck drivers must follow modified self-isolation guidelines for 14 days upon entering the province. They are asked to stay home at all times, except for when picking up essential necessities of life and medical appointments.
Jean-Marc Picard, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, says the restrictions made the job even more difficult on drivers.
"It was a bit of a struggle for the last few months coming home and isolating so now that we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, we'll hit that mark," said Picard.
Picard says he is skeptical the province will hit the vaccination target by Monday, but he's also hopeful it won't be long after.
"Most of the drivers leave for work on Monday and come back home at the end of the week. So, as long as it's by Friday, we'll probably be okay with it.
Sports fans will also benefit from a shift to phase one in the Path to Green plan. A loosening of restrictions means the bleachers at Rocky Stone Field in Moncton's Centennial Park may not stay empty for long.
Greater Moncton Football Association President, Dennis Ronan says fans will be a welcome sight.
"Parents like to cheer on their kids and kids like to hear that cheering from the stands. Especially in a game like football, but all sports really, those athletes thrive from the support of the crowd, that's really what we've been missing and we're so looking forward to having that back," said Ronan.
As of Friday, the province was reporting 67.4 per cent of eligible residents aged 12 and older have had their initial vaccine. More than 50,000 New Brunswickers will need to receive their first dose within the next three days for the province to move to phase one of the Path to Green.