FREDERICTON (GNB) – Interim measures go into effect across the province at 11:59 p.m. to slow the spread of Omicron and other variants of the COVID-19 virus.

“We are seeing case numbers rise quickly in other provinces because of the Omicron variant and need to do everything we can to ensure the same thing does not happen here,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “Everyone needs to do their part to protect themselves, their loved ones and our health-care system by following Public Health measures that are aimed at reducing contacts to slow the spread. Parents are encouraged to make an appointment to get their children vaccinated, and those eligible for a booster dose should also book an appointment as soon as they can.”

The interim measures, in addition to the current Level 1 measures, include:

  • People must limit their household contacts to a maximum of a Steady 20.
  • Distancing must be maintained at all times in businesses, retail establishments, gyms, salons and spas. Dining in restaurants is still permitted but two metres must be maintained between tables and proof of vaccination is still required.
  • Entertainment centres, including movie theatres, professional sporting venues, casinos, etc., will be operating at 50 per cent capacity with distancing of two metres.

More information on the interim measures and the winter plan to manage COVID-19 is available online.

Option for stores selling groceries to ask for proof of vaccination removed

An option allowing stores that sell groceries to ask patrons 12 and over for proof of vaccination, instead of implementing distancing requirements, is being removed from the province’s mandatory order.

The original intention was to give stores a choice, and that those choosing the proof-of-vaccination option would offer delivery or curbside pickup; it was never the intention for anyone to believe they could not access groceries.

Other retail operations that do not sell groceries, along with salons and spas, can continue to ask for proof of vaccination or ensure distancing.

Vaccination update

Public Health reported today that 34.2 per cent of children aged five to 11 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 17,500 appointments have been booked through regional health authority clinics.

Overall, 82.5 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated, 89.1 per cent have received their first dose, and 11.9 per cent have received a booster dose. Currently, 43,360 appointments for booster shots have been booked; this figure increased by 11,060 over the last two days.

A full list of walk-in clinics is available online. A list of those eligible for a booster dose is also available online.

Those who are eligible for pediatric vaccinations or booster doses, and those who have yet to have their first or second dose, can schedule an appointment at a regional health authority clinic through the online booking system or at a participating pharmacy.

143 recoveries / 163 new cases

Public Health reported today that 143 people have recovered from COVID-19 and there are 163 new cases of the virus.

There are 14 people in intensive care and another 31 are in hospital for a total of 45 people hospitalized. Of those in hospital, 28 are over the age of 60 and seven people are on a ventilator. There is no one under 19 hospitalized. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations is available on the COVID-19 dashboard. Six of the 45 people hospitalized were initially admitted for other reasons and contracted COVID-19 due to outbreaks at hospitals in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton and Miramichi. Most of these people are exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms.

Public Health has confirmed a person 70-79 in Zone 1 (Moncton region) and a person 70-79 in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) have died as a result of COVID-19.

An additional 16 cases have been confirmed as the Omicron variant, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of that variant to 30. Identified samples will continue to be tested to determine their COVID-19 variant.

The rate of people hospitalized and in ICU, as well as new cases, continues to most greatly impact people who are unvaccinated. Information about the rates of cases and hospitalizations based on vaccination status, the age and origin of new cases, and additional information, is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.

Of the new cases today, 36 are in Zone 1 (Moncton region), 64 are in Zone 2 (Saint John region), 34 are in Zone 3 (Fredericton region), 11 are in Zone 4 (Edmundston region), two are in Zone 5 (Campbellton region), five are in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) and 11 are in Zone 7 (Miramichi region).

Rapid-test kit program

Rapid-test kits continue to be available across the province. Over the past week, 600,000 kits have been distributed to schools, workplaces and pickup locations. More information on the rapid-test kits program and pickup locations is available online.

Rapid tests are a helpful tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19 but only reflect a person’s status at the time of testing.

Update on schools and child-care facilities

Rapid tests are being provided to all students so they can test regularly over the holidays. Families are encouraged to pick up rapid tests for other family members. If their child has been identified as a close contact, the tests will be provided through their school; otherwise they are available from the nearest pickup location. Anyone who receives a positive rapid-test result, or who is experiencing one symptom of COVID-19, must isolate immediately and book a test at an assessment centre.

To help limit the spread of the virus in schools, students in kindergarten through Grade 6 will begin their holiday break today at the end of the regular school day. The last day of classes for students in grades 7 and 8 will be on Tuesday, Dec. 21. For students in grades 9-12, there will be a noon dismissal on Thursday, Dec. 23.

Information on affected schools is available on the Healthy and Safe Schools website and on the COVID-19 dashboard.

Learn more:

All of New Brunswick is currently in the Level 1 phase of the winter plan to manage COVID-19. More information on the plan, including the additional temporary measures, is available online.

Any household in New Brunswick with a positive case of COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals advised by Public Health or a physician, including confirmed cases of COVID-19, must isolate. More information about isolation is available online.

Potential public exposure locations and dates are listed online. A map of potential public exposures can also be found on the COVID-19 dashboard.

Information and resources to help New Brunswickers live with COVID-19 is available on the COVID-19 guidance and resources webpage.

Information about testing, including booking PCR tests and using rapid tests, is available at

Travellers, including New Brunswickers returning to the province, must register their travel with the travel registration program.

Holiday guidelines for individuals, retailers and event organizers on how to plan for a happy and safe holiday season are available online.