It was a move some have been waiting for with bated breath behind their masks.
“It’s an adjustment but it’s really nice seeing things open,” said Jessica Farrer, who tends to the Fosters Fresh Vegetables stall at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market.
“It’s nice to see people’s faces again,” Farrer said with a laugh. “You forget what people’s smiles look like.”
As of Saturday, masks were no longer required in public in New Brunswick as the province entered the green recovery phase. But many people still chose to wear a mask at the farmers’ market.
The end of the mandatory COVID-19 order means the following is now in effect:
- Lifting of all mandatory travel and public health restrictions that have been in place over the course of the pandemic.
- Lifting of all provincial border restrictions; provincial border checks will cease, and registration will no longer be required to enter New Brunswick from anywhere in Canada.
- Lifting of all limits on gatherings and the number of people within facilities. Capacity limits in theatres, restaurants and stores will no longer be required.
- Ending the requirement to wear face masks in public.
A slow return to pre-pandemic restrictions
For some, the choice to get rid of a mask is still on the back burner. There are concerns around the delta variant, and public health officials warn of a potential fourth COVID wave in the fall.
“We still see people wearing masks and I feel like that is a hint to just keep our distance from them and respect their boundaries,” said Abby Kierstead, Farrer’s colleague.
Kathy Nason runs her stall, Springbrook Cranberry, inside the market. In celebration of the province going green, she decorated with green balloons.
While excited, she also hopes that people will be mindful of others and practise some public health guidelines.
“We’re cautious and we’re hoping and praying that everyone will participate and keep their distances and wash their hands.”
Tourism bounces back
Monique Poirier, executive and artistic director of Pays de la Sagouine, a major tourist attraction in Bouctouche, N.B., can begin to look ahead.
Pays de la Sagouine celebrates Acadian culture through theatrical and musical performances.
As with many attractions in tourism, the pandemic heavily impacted its operations.
In 2020, there was a 10-week tourism season in addition to holiday programming. In a regular annual season, 60,000 people make their way to the town.
During the pandemic, the number of attendees fell sharply below 10,000.
“For me this is like seeing the light at a really long tunnel,” said Poirier.
While the shift to green is welcome, many decisions about the operating season had to be made during spring when the situation was uncertain.
“We’re limited in what we can do, so we’re still going to end the summer season with a reduced offer for our clients because these are decisions we had to make prior to all of this happening,” said Poirier.
Regarding mask wearing and other restrictions, she said she wants to give both staff and visitors that option to feel most comfortable by ensuring they have the option to choose to wear one.
Local businesses cautious
Raine Larocque, a barista at Fredericton cat café The Purrfect Cup, said that she has been looking forward to going without a mask. But she is still somewhat nervous.
“I’m happy to wear one if the customers are really feeling more comfortable that way,” said Larocque, who is fully vaccinated.
“I’m feeling comfortable myself here right now with the mask and we are slowly adding seating back to the café so as to not be a complete shock for everyone.”
The layout of the café will change.
“We no longer have sections dividing the cat room,” said Larocque. “Before it used to be one group per taped off area and now you can kind of wander a bit more, which is a lot easier for little kids who have trouble sticking to one section.”