FREDERICTON - The low number of new COVID-19 cases reported in New Brunswick and the rising level of vaccination among eligible residents is allowing the government to lift all public health orders in one week, Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday.
"We came to this decision because we surpassed our first goal of 75 per cent of eligible population getting their first vaccine and are now at 81 per cent," Higgs told reporters in Fredericton.
"In addition, by the end of next week the percentage of eligible New Brunswickers vaccinated with a second dose will be sufficient to balance out many of the current risks of living with COVID-19, while we continue to strive to vaccinate as many New Brunswickers as possible," Higgs added.
By midnight July 30, all limits on gatherings will be lifted, including in theatres, restaurants and stores. The mask mandate will also be allowed to expire. Federal border restrictions, however, will remain.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, warned people that the virus still exists and they need to be cautious. Some businesses, she added, have indicated they will maintain certain restrictions, adding that she expected some residents will continue to wear masks.
"There should be no reason that anyone should be stigmatized, ostracized or judged for wearing a mask," Russell said.
New Brunswick is reporting very few new cases of COVID-19 and most of them have been related to travel, she added. Russell thanked the public for their willingness to get their first and second doses of vaccine, and she encouraged others to make and keep their appointments.
About 62.7 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated while 81.2 per cent have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Health officials reported three new cases of COVID-19 in the province Friday, with two in the Saint John region and one in the Fredericton area. There are 10 active reported cases in the province and no one is hospitalized with the disease.
New Brunswick has reported a total of 2,350 cases of COVID-19 and 46 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021.
— By Kevin Bissett in Halifax.