New Brunswick is preparing to lift its mandatory order, and with it, all provincial COVID-19 measures on Monday at 12:01 am
That includes mandatory masks, isolation requirements, and gathering limits.
“Let’s hope we can manage, with COVID and what’s left of it,” said Premier Blaine Higgs in an interview with CTV Atlantic. “Public health projections say we’re good to move on.”
Heading into the last weekend with restrictions in place, there is excitement and anxiety.
“We’ve had a lot of individuals who’ve popped in who have said, ‘You know what? We haven’t been in for a few months but we really want to get stocked up before the masks come off,’” said art and toy store owner Luke Randall.
“We’ve been able to let them know, ‘listen, for at least a period of time after the mandates come off until we’re all feeling more comfortable, masks will stay on in here.’”
Randall says masks are an easy way to ensure his staff and customers feel comfortable. He knows while not everyone agrees, he’s hoping people respect the decision.
“People need to really adapt their expectations of others and be kind,” he said. “Find a place of empathy and understanding for the person beside you, whatever it may be.”
New Brunswick tried to lift all restrictions before. On July 31, the province turned ‘green’ and mask mandates were removed.
But the Delta variant saw cases and hospitalizations rise in October — causing restrictions to return.
The idea of a restrictions free tourism season is welcome for operators.
“Bookings have been coming left, right and centre, and so the operators I’ve spoken to say the phones are ringing off the hook. They’re very excited,” said Carol Alderdice, president of the Tourism Industry Association of NB
She says many outdoor operators, like campgrounds, did well last year. But lots of hotels and restaurants are still struggling.
“To get meetings and conventions going again, sports tourism going again, that will bring people into the communities and into hotels and restaurants and that’s what we need,” she said.
They’re also hoping the price of gas doesn’t deter tourists from spending time in the province.