For those of you who aren’t familiar with Canadian geography or with the profiles of all of its provinces, my little, often-overlooked province of New Brunswick in eastern Canada won’t be a name that rings a bell. Don’t feel bad, many Canadians aren’t too familiar with us either. In fact, we once stayed in a national chain motel in Connecticut on our way back from a trip years ago and the map of the U.S. and Canada on the lobby wall didn’t have New Brunswick showing. It showed the State of Maine, just a few hundred miles up the east coast from the motel, bordering what was labelled Nova Scotia. New Brunswick had just disappeared. I know we’re considered a drive-through province, but still!
Not only are we dismissed as not map-worthy by one of the major motel chains (I forget which one), but we are often dismissed nationally because we have a smaller population than most provinces and our economy has never rebounded to the star status it had back in the days of the sailing ships! Well, it turns out that hiding your light under a bushel can pay off. Nobody is out of the woods until the world comes up with a credible, well-tested vaccine, but our little province, along with the even smaller province of Prince Edward Island, are at least leading the way in limiting COVID cases. Out of our population of around 770,000 people, we’ve had 122 cases and 0 deaths. The very good news arising from this is that as of today we have entered Phase 3 of reopening.
Phase 3. The Yellow Level. It almost seems too good to be true. I’m not sure any of us are mentally prepared for this. We all know that social distancing and masks in stores and anywhere else where social distancing may not be possible will remain in force until we have a vaccine, but this is what is suddenly allowed. It’s overwhelming, almost surreal. From the Province’s website:
New Brunswick is currently moving to the Yellow level. During this time, Public Health measures and guidelines must still be followed.
The following are now allowed:
- Your household bubble can be extended to close friends and family.
- Non-regulated health professionals and businesses can open, including acupuncturists and naturopaths.
- Personal services businesses can open, including: barbers, hair stylists, spas, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists, and tattoo artists.
On Friday, May 29, 2020, New Brunswick will loosen additional restrictions under the Yellow level. At that time, the following will be allowed:
- Outdoor gatherings of 50 people or fewer with physical distancing. Religious services of 50 people or fewer can take place indoors with physical distancing.
- Elective surgeries and other non-emergency health-care services will increase.
- Low-contact team sports can be played.
- The following will be allowed to open:
- Swimming pools, saunas and waterparks
- Gyms, yoga and dance studios
- Rinks and indoor recreational facilities
- Pool halls and bowling alleys
On Friday, June 19, 2020, overnight camps will be able to open.
All unnecessary travel into New Brunswick is prohibited. Everyone entering New Brunswick at any point of entry, including airports, must stop when instructed to do so by a peace officer and answer any questions as required to support the intent of the requirements of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. With few exceptions, anyone who comes to New Brunswick from outside the province and remains here is required to self-isolate for 14 days. Information for international and interprovincial travellers can be found here.
As a result of these changes, I had several very unexpected phone calls this morning. First of all, I had a call from the office of my shoulder specialist, who asked me if I could come for my shoulder replacement surgery on Wednesday. Wednesday, that’s May 27. OMG. I had been planning to call their office in early June to see what date I might get as they opened up, thinking maybe October. Yikes. Next I got two follow-up calls related to this unexpected – but welcome – plan of action. I was given an appointment for a COVID test on Sunday, 3 days prior to entering hospital, to ensure that I am COVID-free. And, once I have the test, I have to self-isolate, so any trips to the grocery store, etc., have to be done today or tomorrow. I haven’t had any deadlines for 10 weeks. Yikes again.
Then I got a call from my hairdresser, who had previously told me he thought he’d be open to give me an appointment by June 8. “Can you come for an appointment on Monday … or Wednesday?” Yikes. I explained my sudden unexpected situation and the absolutely lovely man immediately said he’d see me tomorrow morning, as long as I didn’t mind that there might not be a mirror up yet because they’re busily trying to get everything ready to meet the requirements. Wow. Since once I have this surgery who knows how I’ll even wash my hair for several weeks, getting a long-overdue haircut ahead of time is HUGE!
Then I realized that this means I only have a few days to get our annuals planted (yes, the warm weather has just reached our shores). Since our local nursery could not figure out any way to provide for social distancing in their greenhouses, they have set up an online order system; they email you (or phone) when your order is ready and then you go pick it up or have it delivered. All now ordered. Easy-peasy. More scheduling has now happened at our house in the past few hours than has happened in the past ten weeks. Amazing. It’s almost too much to take in!
As I mentioned in a previous COVID post, our province has had such positive results (knock on wood) due to a combination of competent government and public health officials all working closely and collaboratively together, and also due to some good luck. Our March Break was earlier than most and our government decided to close the schools down early. And if you notice the final paragraph of today’s announcement with respect to moving to Level Yellow, the province remains closed to non-essential travel. This has been an important regulation to help keep us virus-free. Support for those border closures remains strong.
All this to say, there is light at the end of the tunnel, at least temporarily, if people adhere to the social distancing and mask rules. Surely that’s worth the price of saving lives and helping get your part of the world slowly back on track. Yes, there might very well be a second wave – it appears to be all but a certainty – but we know what we have to do – adhere to the social distancing and mask rules!
Meanwhile, if I don’t blog for a few weeks after Map Monday, you’ll know it’s because I haven’t yet learned the patience required to type with just one hand. I’m going to be forced into one-handedness for 6 weeks as my shoulder heals! Worth every minute of it.