Effective as of December 4 at midnight, all areas in New Brunswick shifted to level one as part of the newly announced COVID-19 Winter Plan.

New Brunswick’s Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said on Friday the Winter Action Plan will aid in reducing the spread of the virus when combined with vaccinations and public health guidelines.

Shephard said the entire province will start off in level one, the lowest of the three levels, which calls for similar measures to those that have been in place since Thanksgiving.

In level one, indoor informal gatherings are limited to a maximum of 20 people and 50 people for outdoor informal gatherings. Due to the higher potential of spread, indoor social gatherings are discouraged by officials for vaccine-eligible individuals who are unvaccinated.

As the pandemic surges on and the holiday season enters full swing, there are concerns swirling around about a possible move to level two. This level would limit household bubbles down to two households only and involve an increase in travel restrictions in and out of zones and the province.

As it stands, travel restrictions are for the most part relaxed, requiring vaccinated students who are travelling into the province by air to pre-register online and provide proof of vaccination or proof of medical exemption, including New Brunswickers re-entering the province. Fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to self-isolate.

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 14 days or until they receive a negative result from a test taken on day 10 or later.

There are a number of exemptions, including for post-secondary students travelling for their education.

Martina Barclay, a first-year student at STU who is planning to major in Journalism, is flying home to Winnipeg, Manitoba this holiday season. 

“It’s two flights, one to Toronto, then Toronto to Winnipeg. I’m just grateful that I am able to go home for the holidays and that travel between provinces is allowed,” Barclay explained. “Because there’s a vaccination and mask mandate, I feel pretty safe going home knowing that I’m surrounded by only those who are vaccinated.”

The new variant, Omicron, is wreaking havoc for many and their holiday plans. 

“I understand the Omicron variant poses new problems, but we’ve had many types of variants pop up and I’m confident we’ll beat this one too,” Barclay said optimistically. “I think now they have a lot more information and experience to combat new variants that arise, so it doesn’t stress me out too much.”

Barclay is maintaining what has become the status quo for most students: handwashing, masking, and distancing. “As for precautions, I’m just wearing my mask and trying to keep myself as healthy as possible,” Barclay said.More information on level measures can be found on the Government of New Brunswick website: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Corporate/Promo/COVID19/alertlvls/docs/Alert-Level-Guidance.pdf