Well it’s certainly been another dynamic week in our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic in New Brunswick. We’ve had a setback this week, but I encourage everyone to keep their heads up – we are still well-positioned relative to the rest of the world and we can flatten the curve again like we did in the spring.
Zone 3 (Fredericton Region) is now back in the Orange Phase of the New Brunswick Recovery Plan. No doubt it is challenging news for the businesses and citizens in Zone 3 but not entirely unexpected, and we encourage all our members to follow the guidance of Dr Russell and the Government of New Brunswick. Our collective priority must be getting the virus back under control so that citizens and businesses can get back to a more normal life.
- Essential travel only is recommended in and out of Orange level zones, however, people can continue to travel within the province for work, school, essential errands and medical appointments.
- Outdoor gatherings with physical distancing of 25 people or fewer are permitted. Physical distancing is required in all other settings.
- Wearing face masks is mandatory in public spaces, both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor public spaces include parks, playgrounds, markets, festival sites, dog parks, and walking trails. A mask is not required while walking, jogging or cycling with people in the same bubble, where they are unlikely to encounter people, or risk coming within two metres of, people from outside their bubble.
- Primary care providers and regulated health professionals may operate but are urged to use virtual appointments whenever possible.
- Unregulated health professionals, barbers, hair stylists or spas may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan, with enhanced public health measures such as active screening of patrons, closed waiting rooms, and enhanced barriers.
Education / Daycare
- Daycares and K-12 schools are open under strict guidance. Virtual teaching is to be used for at-risk populations. Day camps are allowed.
- Post-secondary educational institutions may operate.
- Outdoor recreational activities are allowed, including campgrounds, ATV or snowmobile trails.
- Recreational and sport organizations may operate but are limited to practices and/or skills and drills within a single team.
- Gym, fitness facilities, and yoga studios may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan with additional public health measures, including:
- Two metres of physical distancing, with masks, in low-intensity fitness classes such as yoga, tai chi, and stretching; and three metres of physical distancing for high-intensity activities such as spin, aerobics and boot camp.
- active screening and record keeping of patrons.
- closed locker rooms/common areas.
- Entertainment venues such as casinos, amusement centres, bingo halls, arcades, cinemas and large live performance facilities may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan. The occupancy limit is set at 50 or fewer, depending upon the size of the venue and the ability to ensure two metres of physical distancing, with continuous mask use and record keeping.
Food and Beverage
- Licensed premises such as a bar or restaurant in areas in the Orange level of recovery must ensure all patrons are seated at all times, except to enter and exit the premises and to go to and from washrooms.
- Distancing of two metres is required where food and beverages are served. Record keeping for seated venues is a requirement.
- Section 2 of the mandatory order provides the following on taking contact information: “…when patrons arrive in parties to be seated together, and one member of the party undertakes to record the names and contact information of the rest of the party, it is sufficient for the host to record the name and contact information of only one member of the party. Where a business offers take-out food or drink as well as seated service, it need not record the names and contract information of take-out patrons”
- Your responsibilities at a glance:
- Explain to your patrons/visitors why you are collecting their contact information.
- Only collect the minimum information necessary. Restrict the information collected to: first and last name and phone number or email address of one (1) person per group/party who will be seated together. The person above must know how to contact the rest of the individuals in their group/party. Please also record the date and time of each visit. Only collect the email address if no phone number is available.
- Record and validate the information of at least one member of the party (this includes asking one patron in the party for identification).
- In the orange and red phases, ensure people being seated together are from the same household bubble. This can be addressed by ask asking each party to verbally affirm that all members of the party are from the same household bubble.
- Under the Orange Phase, household bubbles are allowed one caregiver / support person – these individuals are considered part of the household bubble for all purposes, including sitting together at a food or beverage establishment.
- For more guidance on collecting contact information, the government has provided an updated summary here.
All other businesses may operate under a COVID-19 operational plan.
Updated New Brunswick Mandatory Order
Last week, the Government of New Brunswick also made important changes to the province’s mandatory order regarding self-isolation requirements. The following has been provided by Cox and Palmer’s Labour and Employment Group:
Changes to Self-Isolation for Workers
- NB regular commuters: New Brunswick residents returning from work in Canada outside of the Atlantic bubble who are regular commuters and return to New Brunswick daily are still not required to self-isolate upon returning to New Brunswick.
- Persons who are not residents of an Atlantic Province and who are covered by an operational plan: individuals who are not residents of an Atlantic province and who are traveling into New Brunswick under the authority of an operational plan, and any associated plans such as an isolation plan approved by WorkSafeNB, are required to isolate in accordance with the isolation requirements outlined in their operational plan.
- NB residents returning from work travel: NB residents returning to NB from work travel are required to isolate for 14 days or until they have been tested for COVID-19 on the fifth, sixth, or seventh day after they enter New Brunswick, test negative, and commit to testing again on the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth day, and test negative.
- NB residents returning to NB whose employer has an operational plan: those NB residents returning to NB whose employer has a documented operational plan, including work self-isolation elements, and who comply with that plan, must work self-isolate for 14 days or until they are tested for COVID-19 on the fifth, sixth, or seventh day after they enter New Brunswick, test negative, and commit to testing again on the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth day, and test negative.
Premier Higgs also announced that the province was indefinitely withdrawing from the Atlantic Bubble and residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador intending to enter New Brunswick must pre-register their travel with the New Brunswick Travel Registration Program and receive approval before entering, with the exception of commercial drivers delivering goods and persons exempted by the Chief Medical Officer of Health or her designate. Travelers must also self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival unless they are exempt from isolation under the order.
Car Pooling in Orange Phase
Carpooling with others for work, school, medical appointments, or to access essential services such as groceries is permitted. When carpooling, continuous masking and maintaining social distancing is required. If possible, only transport passengers outside your single household bubble in the back seat. Drivers must screen potential passengers for signs of illness, and drivers or passengers who are ill or who have been told to self-isolate by Public Health must stay home. Maximize ventilation in the vehicle, and do not recirculate the air. Clean and disinfect all surfaces that may have been touched by the passenger.
Driving with members of your single household bubble or caregiver is permitted and masks are not required.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
Earlier this week the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy opened for applications. Organizations can now apply directly for the subsidy for the period from September 27 to October 24, 2020 through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Business Account, or Represent a Client portals. Applications for the second CERS period (October 25 to November 21, 2020) will open on November 30.
In response to concerns raised by stakeholders about the program, the government is proposing to amend the CERS in order to allow applicants to include eligible expenses in their CERS application before the expense has been paid. This means that organizations can include rent and other eligible amounts already paid in respect of a claim period as well as amounts that are payable for the claim period when submitting their CERS applications. Amounts that are not paid at the time of the application will have to be paid no later than 60 days after payment of the subsidy.
The CRA has launched a CERS online calculator and application form that are designed almost identically to those of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The calculator guides applicants through a step-by-step process that allows them to determine the subsidy amount they can claim, based on the information they enter. The CERS web pages include detailed information about eligibility requirements, how payment periods are structured, and how the subsidy is calculated.
The CRA will collect applications over the coming days and, on November 30, process applications received to date. Qualifying organizations whose claims successfully clear the CRA’s automated verification system and that are registered for direct deposit should expect to begin receiving payments starting on December 4.
Ask CERS Questions to CRA
The CRA will host a series of interactive question and answer sessions for eligible organizations beginning on 4 December 2020. Chamber staff will attend these meetings and we encourage interested members to register to ask your questions. To check availability and register, click here.
In the Media
After the announced move to the Orange Phase on Thursday, I spoke to a number of media outlets about what the change means for our members and how it has never been more important for the community to support or local businesses through this time: