By The Canadian Press
Too few New Brunswickers are taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and avoiding public gatherings, Premier Blaine Higgs said Thursday, before declaring a state of emergency to give his government more power to manage the crisis.
The premier invoked the provincial Emergencies Measures Act to order all public schools, universities and colleges closed indefinitely. He ordered non-essential retail stores to stop admitting the public immediately.
Certain exceptions to his order apply, including grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor and cannabis stores operated by the province, as well as auto-repair shops, gas stations, post offices and hardware stores. Higgs added that food and beverage companies can now only offer take-out options, while all bars must close.
Higgs says his directives are no longer suggestions and all citizens, under law, must comply.
“It has become clear that there are still too many people in our province who are not following the advice of our public health officials — or are deliberately ignoring them,” he told reporters.
“This has compelled our government to take these measures.”
Number of cases unchanged
He made the order despite the fact the province did not have an increase in COVID-19 cases. Authorities said the tally of presumptive and confirmed cases on Thursday stood unchanged at 11.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 14. Health officials said Thursday two new cases were identified the prior day, and both are travel-related.
There are five confirmed and nine presumptive cases in Nova Scotia. The 14 individuals affected range in age from their early 30s to mid-70s and the cases are located across the province. To date, Nova Scotia has 1,373 negative test results as a result of daily testing.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, chief medical officer Janice Fitzgerald said Thursday the province has confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19, which came from a test given to a patient last week. The province has two other presumptive cases for which it is awaiting confirmation, and it is monitoring 276 people who are in self-isolation.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 but Fitzgerald urged parents to avoid planning sleepovers and play dates for their kids and asked young people not to congregate in groups.
Authorities in Prince Edward Island announced the province’s second case of COVID-19 Thursday, with 89 people under investigation for the novel coronavirus.
Higgs said that despite the restrictions he imposed Thursday, “We need to keep as much moving as we can in the economy.”
Therefore, he said, construction work, factories and other industries that are not in the public view or have regular exposure to the public need to keep operating. But, he said, those companies need to send anyone home who isn’t an essential worker and must comply with social-distancing rules.
The premier added that “any premise” where people typically gather in large numbers, must take all responsible steps to prevent gatherings of more than 10 people.
“Before this was a recommendation,” he said, “today this is a requirement.”
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