Coronavirus: New Brunswick to roll out plan to reopen businesses under a ‘new normal’

On April 24, New Brunswick began relaxing the restrictions it put in place to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, after announcing the province has not had a new case since April 18.

For now, businesses that are currently permitted to open, such as nurseries and drive-thrus, are still grappling with how to operate under a new normal.

That “new normal” will be guided by four colour-coded public health alert levels: Red, Orange, Yellow and Green.

As of April 24, the province is in transition between the Red and Orange levels, with the goal of allowing New Brunswickers to enjoy the province’s wide-open outdoor spaces.

Scott’s Nursery, a garden centre in Fredericton, is one of the businesses that have been completely changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Customers now place phone or online orders for delivery or line-up near the centre for pick-up, without contact, which is a far cry from the pre-COVID-19 personable face-to-face experience in the garden centre.

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“There’s a real focus on vegetables this year, seed has been selling here like we haven’t seen in years,” said George Scott, the garden centre’s owner.

Although sales are steady, Scott is short staffed.

“We’re down about 40 per cent because of various issues, they either have concerns with people they are living with or they are nervous,” he said.

As the province will soon roll out its plan to reopen businesses, Bruce McCormack, the executive director of Downtown Fredericton Inc., says companies need to be informed of public health’s prevention measures ASAP.

 

“The first phase will probably be the dentist offices and professional offices similar to what they did in Saskatchewan, the next phase will probably go into the hairdressing and salons,” said McCormack.

The owner of Dairy Queen, Bob Dewar, said he’s preparing to reopen his four Dairy Queen franchises.

“We’re just going to do the drive-thru for now and wait until the next step, but we’ll be glad to get back to work,” said Dewar.

But some businesses will not be able to re-open due to losses over the last month, according to Krista Ross, the CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.

“The next step now will be to understand what types of obligations they’ll have, what types of regulations they’ll need to work within, the types of restrictions they’ll have and how they will be able to operate their business with these guidelines,” said Ross.

She says local businesses need support now more than ever.

“They are working under extreme pressure, they are having difficulty finding staff who are interested in working and their sales are significantly decreased while at the same time many of their expenses stay close to pre-COIVD rates.”

-With files from Alexander Quon

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