New Brunswick’s emergency order isn’t likely to return once the province let’s it expire, even if COVID-19 outbreaks or hospitalizations occur after that date.
That’s according to Premier Blaine Higgs, who said on Thursday he hoped to dissolve the order, and the additional government powers that come with it, by Aug. 2. “Right now, given all the knowledge we have and what’s required to get there, we feel very comfortable that once we remove the emergency order we would not need to bring it back,” he said in a press conference.
“I’m sure Public Health would be able to give us a recommendation based on whatever we might see as any particular health concerns that might be potential at that point, or we wouldn’t make the change.”
That date is also contingent on the province reaching 75 per cent of the population vaccinated with two doses.
Minister of Justice Ted Flemming hinted at the change in a Wednesday evening committee, saying extended emergency powers to the province would end once New Brunswick reached a high vaccination rate. The minister of justice has signed the emergency order every two weeks since March 2020, to grant that added authority.
“When we’ve reached a point where the public is no longer at risk of COVID, there will be no reason to have the emergency order, ” Flemming said.
“in large measure, it will be a process of vaccination. More people get vaccinated, risk goes down, we don’t need an order.” Spokesperson Ashley Beaudin said the Liberal Party feels two-dose herd immunity should triger the order’s expiry, as it does in the reopening plan. Green Party leader David Coon defferred to Public Health onwhen the order should be lifted.
However, People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin called for “flexibility” on the timing laid out in the plan.
“As more and more people get vaccinated it is becomming clear that vaccinatons are indeed effective and as such a more balanced approach to some of these current restrictions are needed, as well as flexibility on ending the state of emergency sooner,” Austin said.
The news of a possible end to the order this summer comes as Bill 54, which proposes immunity for anyone who enforced pandemic laws, is debated in the legislature.
“There is some hope and some end in sight, and in that regard we have to start planning for when we come out of this COVID era,” Flemming said.
The bill would protect, for example, public safety officers stopping people at New Brunswick border, even after those laws are no longer in effect.
“We can’t have a whole lot of people suing Public Safety and the government because their rights were infringed. And they were, there’s no mistake about it, that’s exactly what there were,” Flemming said.
Savannah Awde, King’s County Record, June 1, 2021
removed June 25, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20210527093853/https://tj.news/story/101573629
Reprinted without permission.