'We will not settle for good enough': N.B. won't move into phase one of reopening until vaccination goal met

New Brunswick will not be entering phase one of its reopening plan on Monday, as the province has not met its vaccination goal.

"Until we have 75 per cent of New Brunswickers with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, public health will recommend that all current restrictions remain in place," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, N.B. chief medical officer of health during Monday’s news update.

The province previously announced the goal to have 75 per cent of New Brunswickers vaccinated with at least one dose, as part of their "Path to Green" reopening plan.

Officials say even though the vaccination rate has been climbing at a steady pace in recent weeks, it will take another four or five days for the province to reach its goal and for the first phase of its reopening plan to kick in.

"When we announced our Path to Green plan, we set ambitious goals for each phase. Ambitious, but certainly possibly," said N.B. Premier Blaine Higgs during Monday's news update. "We looked at the numbers, and saw that June 7 was the earliest possible date we could reach 75 per cent of New Brunswickers 12 and over vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine. While we have not reached 75 per cent yet, we have made great strides towards reaching this goal."

As it stands, New Brunswick Public Health says 70.3 per cent of the province's population 12 and up - 487,408 people - have had a first dose. The province has averaged about 7,500 vaccinations per day for the last week.

“We will not settle for good enough. Close may count in horseshoes but not in pandemics,” said Russell.

“Unless we achieve this minimum level of vaccination, loosening restrictions could lead to infections and serious illness that could overwhelm our healthcare system. When we get to 75 per cent, and I’m confident we will get there in the coming days, we will be able to slowly remove some of the limits on public movement and gathering. But not until then.”

Phase one would mean travel from P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, and parts of Quebec would open up, with no testing or self-isolation required.

Despite the setback, Higgs says he's confident the province will succeed in its plan to open New Brunswick to the rest of Canada on July 1.

"Right now, our target is not a date, our target is a vaccination percentage," continued Higgs. "Our target is 75 per cent, and we need to get there, to make sure that we're ready to go the next step, with not only the second vaccines, but be ready for July 1 When it comes, and to be able to celebrate like we haven't for two years. To be in a position where we once again can enjoy friends and neighbors and families from across the country, from other parts of the U.S., we need to get our house in order, so we will be safe one another. And we can do this."

Higgs added that he thinks New Brunswickers can get to that 75 per cent without incentive -- other than providing a free vaccine.

"As far as someone thinking that we would offer cash incentives to get a vaccine, that won't be the case," Higgs said.

During Monday's news update, Russell encouraged young New Brunswickers to get vaccinated, noting that those under the age of 30 have the lowest vaccination rates in the province.

The province says thousands of appointments are available for those who wish to have a first dose of vaccine this week.

ONE NEW CASE

New Brunswick is also reporting one new case of COVID-19 on Monday, as well as 23 recoveries, as the active number of cases in the province drops to 111.

The new case involves an individual in their 30s located in the Fredericton region (Zone 3), who was a contact of a previously confirmed case.

Public health says 864 tests were completed on Sunday in New Brunswick, and 343,929 total since the start of the pandemic.

There are now 111 active cases of COVID-19, including three New Brunswickers who were infected and are self-isolating in another province.

New Brunswick has had 2,266 cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

In total, 2,110 people have recovered, and 44 people have died in the province from COVID-19-related causes.

There are currently four people hospitalized in New Brunswick, including two in intensive care.

The number of cases are broken down by New Brunswick’s seven health zones:

  • Zone 1 – Moncton region: 471 confirmed cases (40 active cases)
  • Zone 2 – Saint John region: 295 confirmed cases (three active cases)
  • Zone 3 – Fredericton region: 412 confirmed cases (45 active cases)
  • Zone 4 – Edmundston region: 751 confirmed cases (no active cases)
  • Zone 5 – Campbellton region: 185 confirmed cases (no active cases)
  • Zone 6 – Bathurst region: 114 confirmed cases (22 active cases)
  • Zone 7 – Miramichi region: 38 confirmed cases (one active case)

New Brunswick also reported potential COVID-19 exposure sites on Monday. A full list can be found on their website.

SECOND DOSE APPOINTMENTS OPEN

Beginning Monday, New Brunswickers who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine before April 1 can book an appointment for their second dose.

On June 14, eligibility for second doses will expand further to include anyone who received their first dose during the month of April

YELLOW LEVEL REMINDER

All of New Brunswick remains under the yellow level of recovery under the province’s order.