On November 27 at midnight, Zone 3 (Fredericton) moved to the Orange phase of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 recovery plan. 

These restrictions were planned to last for at least two weeks, but zones 1 and 3 were returned to Yellow at midnight on December 6. This early return to the Yellow phase is a welcome development for the region’s gyms and restaurants. 

Under Orange rules, two metres of distance must be maintained at low intensity fitness facilities, while three metres of distance must be maintained at fitness facilities offering high intensity programming. 

For Biometrics Strength and Conditioning, a high intensity fitness facility in Fredericton, the Orange rules meant overhauling the entire program. 

“Our class sizes needed to be cut in half to allow for the proper amount of space between members. We now run 30-minute group sessions instead of one-hour sessions to accommodate the same number of members,” explained head coach Kyle Kostynski.

Beyond reducing class time and the number of members in the gym, Biometrics has also increased safety protocols to reduce transmission risk. 

“Masks are required upon entering the gym and within the entire building. This includes the equipment room, walking throughout the facility, and in the washrooms. Staff are also required to wear a mask when instructing the group class. The members are socially distanced throughout the session, and all equipment is disinfected between classes.” 

While this has helped maintain the accessibility of gym time for members, there have been some impacts on the facility. 

“Membership prices are based on the ability to have unlimited access to the facility and open gym sessions. Since classes are now only 30 minutes, our members are not receiving full benefit. Although the result is not optimal, we believe that we are doing the best we can for our members and ensuring everyone is still able to come in and work out.” 

Kostynski is excited to see an early return to the Yellow phase, which will see Biometrics return to its regular slate of classes and gym time, providing a more flexible schedule for its members.

While gyms like Biometrics found creative ways to adapt to the Orange phase, the restaurant industry faced greater challenges. 

The Orange phase restricted dining parties to single household bubbles, removing the ability for patrons to socialize with those outside of their household. Youmn Istanbouli, a UNB student and server at Brewbaker’s in downtown Fredericton, noticed significant changes to her workplace. 

“I used to have an average of four shifts per week in September and October. Now, each server has an average of one shift a week,” Istanbouli said, explaining that this comes from a decline in customers. “Brewbakers is now closed Monday and Sunday, and we are no longer open for brunch. If there are no signs of a safe reopening on the horizon, we are looking at closing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays too.”

The Orange phase restriction limited Fredericton residents to a single-household bubble. Restaurants may have faced fines if found hosting patrons from different bubbles, which posed additional problems for staff, who were required to confirm diners reside at the same address. 

The general sentiment from servers is that their loss of income and increased stress is not balanced by any additional feelings of safety at work. Flo Dumontet, a full-time bartender, found the additional requirements to be overwhelming. 

“There are already a million thoughts running through a server’s mind. Now there is added pressure to ensure patrons have their masks on at all times, are part of a single-household bubble, and comply with all public health measures.” 

Despite the restrictions and lost business, Brewbakers continues to adapt their service by offering office catering and online ordering via their website www.brewbakers.com.  

Istanbouli hopes to return to her regular schedule with the region moving back into the Yellow phase, but that depends on the state of business at Brewbaker’s and if patrons are comfortable returning to indoor dining. 

The Moncton Zone joins Fredericton in returning to the Yellow phase, while the Saint John Zone remains in Orange.