On March 18, 2020, the New Brunswick government called on individuals to stay home and engage in proper social distancing practices to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
As a result, a specific website with COVID-19 guidance for businesses was launched to inform businesses on the extraordinary measures the government and public health are taking to protect their residents and their economy. Some of the measures include:
- Owners and managers of all workplaces and organizers of all activities will take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of people within 2 metres of each other and carry out advice to minimize risk as issued by the chief medical officer of health.
- All owners and managers of all workplaces will reduce to critical functions and will take every reasonable step required to prevent people who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the workplace, in accordance with advice issued by the chief medical officer of health or Worksafe New Brunswick. They will also take every reasonable step required to prevent people from entering workplaces who have travelled internationally in the previous 14 days.
- All food and beverage businesses will be reduced to take-out and delivery service only.
- All lounges and special facilities licensed under the Liquor Control Act will stop admitting patrons.
- All swimming pools, spas, saunas, waterparks, gymnasiums, yoga studios, dance studios, rinks and arenas, tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, climbing walls, escape rooms, ski hills, golf courses, arcades, amusement centres, pool halls, bowling alleys, casinos, cinemas, libraries, museums, zoos, aquariums, barbers, hairstylists, esthetics service providers, sugar bush operations, and theatres or other live performance venues will stop admitting members of the public.
- Schools, colleges, universities and private schools must be closed to students. Institutions which have students in residence are permitted to allow them to remain in residence until they can safely return home. Online course delivery may continue.
- All businesses in retail sales will stop admitting patrons, except: grocery stores; pharmacies; repair garages; post offices; financial and lending institutions; retailers of fuel, hardware and automotive parts; convenience stores; animal and fish feed providers; and corporate and agency stores of NB Liquor and Cannabis NB. All businesses required to stop admitting patrons are permitted to sell online or over the phone and to arrange delivery or pick-up of purchases.
- Every person directed by a physician to self-isolate will obey.
- Every person who has been outside Canada will self-isolate within their home for 14 days after their return to Canada, and, if they experience symptoms of COVID-19 during that period, they will remain self-isolated until they are free of symptoms. This requirement does not apply to people exempted by the chief medical officer of health.
- Owners and operators of all other premises at which people may gather in large numbers will take all reasonable steps to prevent gatherings of more than ten people.
- All regulated health services providers will cease operations unless the services to be provided are to address essential health care or an emergency healthcare situation.
The government and public health have also provided the following recommended strategies for employers to use now:
Actively encourage sick employees to stay home:
- Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home. Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
- Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
- Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work.
- Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
In addition to this website, the government has prepared an FAQ page to provide employers with further health and safety suggestions on how to keep workplaces safe.
On March 25, 2020, the government announced that it is implementing restrictions for all travellers arriving in New Brunswick from outside the province. Interprovincial travellers will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Effective 3:00 p.m. A.D.T on March 25, 2020, all unnecessary travel into the province is prohibited. Screening will be implemented at all interprovincial borders, and peace officers have been instructed to turn away visitors that attempt to enter New Brunswick. Travellers arriving from either Quebec, Prince Edward Island, or Nova Scotia will be stopped by peace officers and must provide identification. Details regarding contact information and intended destinations will be collected and followed for all travellers, including travellers making their way through New Brunswick to enter another province.
Commercial traffic and essential employees, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics and members of the military, will be exempt from these measures so that services may be maintained.
On March 26, 2020, the government announced additional economic support measures for residents and business owners, in addition to its previously announced $900 income-benefit for workers. This is expected to be available before the end of March and end on April 30, 2020.
The government also confirmed $50-million in COVID-19 expenditures and relief, including:
(a) deferring WorkSafeNB assessment premiums for 3 months;
(b) deferring interest and principle payments on existing loans from the provincial government;
(c) up to $25-million in working capital for small business owners. These businesses will be eligible for up to $200,000 in loans. Principal payment will not need to be made for up to 12 months; and
(d) up to $25-million in working capital for medium to large-sized employer. These businesses can apply directly to Opportunities NB for more than $200,000 in working capital to help manage the effects of COVID-19 on their business.
The government announced forthcoming legislative and regulatory amendments that will provide a new job-protected leave of absence for up to 15 weeks. This leave will be available for workers who either have COVID-19 or are caring for someone with the virus. We will keep you updated.
March 27, 2020: Health care workers that develop symptoms of COVID-19 are directed to immediately self-isolate. All school playgrounds and playgrounds associated with public housing facilities, are closed. Businesses that are allowed to be open must limit the number of customers to maintain physical distancing and must check that customers entering are not among those required to be in self-isolation. Failing to comply could result in enforcement by the Department of Public Safety or a stop-work order by WorkSafeNB.
March 28, 2020: Service New Brunswick locations closed until April 1, 2020, at which point select service centres will open by appointment only.
On April 1, 2020, the government extended the state of emergency that was declared on March 19, 2020, for another 14 days. The Premier warned that failure to comply with emergency orders could result in fines ranging from $292.50 to $10,200, and that law enforcement authorities were being deployed to enforce these measures.
In addition, the chief medical officer of health is requiring healthcare workers in nursing homes to have their temperature taken before being allowed into the workplace.
On April 2, 20202, the New Brunswick government revised its emergency order made under the Emergency Measures Act, which includes that owners and occupiers of land are now responsible to take all reasonable steps to prevent social or recreational gatherings and individuals are prohibited from knowingly approaching within two metres of another person, except members of their household or as needed for work.
The government also announced that schools will not be reopened and the school calendar will not be extended unless the situation drastically improves. A government website now provides options for learning at home.
On April 3, 2020, an “Emergency Bridging Fund for Vulnerable Post-Secondary Students” was announced by the government for domestic and international students impacted by COVID-19. Post-secondary institutions will distribute funds based on certain eligibility criteria, with one-time payments to students being up to $750.
On April 6, 2020, the government established a pandemic task force vested with decision-making authority over the provincial healthcare system’s efforts to combat COVID-19. Information on the task force can be found here.
On April 7, 2020, the government announced that businesses impacted by COVID-19 may now apply for working capital loans. Additional information about the application process may be accessed here.
All workers interested in the New Brunswick Emergency Income Benefit must apply before 8:00 p.m. A.D.T. on April 9, 2020. The application period for the New Brunswick Emergency Income Benefit for workers ended on April 9, 2020.
On April 13, 2020: The government detailed its current measures to ensure the health and safety of seniors residing in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in New Brunswick, including:
- prohibiting visitors;
- implementing advanced screening protocols for staff prior to entering the workplace (including temperature checks and screening questions);
- providing on-site instruction for physicians and staff on caring for residents to avoid unnecessary transfers to hospitals wherever possible; and
- providing ongoing training on the proper use of personal protective equipment (“PPE”) for staff, and requiring that all staff with direct patient contact use PPE.
On April 15, 2020, the government announced that the Legislative Assembly will reconvene on Friday, April 17, 2020 to consider certain legislative amendments, including the creation of a job protected leave for workers absent from work due to COVID-19.
April 16, 2020: Premier Blaine Higgs announced that restaurants with a licence can sell liquor off their menu for take-out or delivery.
Premier Blaine Higgs announced that gardening and agricultural retailers can reopen.
The Government of New Brunswick extended the state of emergency to April 30, 2020. The government announced the extension of the provincial state of emergency for another 14 days, ending April 30, 2020. Certain revisions were made to the government’s emergency order, including the following: any restaurant offering take out must take all reasonable steps to ensure the physical distancing of its customers on the premises awaiting food; and property owners must take steps to prevent gatherings.
On April 17, 2020, the government passed amendments to the Employment Standards Act. These amendments include a new job-protected leave of absence during a declared state of emergency, the full details of which can be determined by the government through a regulation. As of 5:00 p.m. EDT, no regulation setting out the details of the new leave was publicly available. We will provide an updated as soon as they are. For more information, go to the Employment/labour standards and HR management section of this page.
April 17, 2020: The government passed legislative amendments to the Emergency Measures Act which, among other things, creates new powers for the government to suspend timelines for court measures.
On April 21, 2020, the government announced new funding for non-profit organizations under the Community Investment Fund. Under this program, eligible small to medium-sized non-profit organizations affected by COVID-19 will be eligible for grants ranging from $500 to $10,000. Additional information and the program application may be accessed online.
The government also launched a new online portal for all individuals receiving a test for COVID-19 as of April 21, 2020. The results may be accessed with a registration code online, and results should be posted within 48 hours.
Finally, the government confirmed that all interprovincial border restrictions remain in place.
On April 24, 2020, the government amended its State of Emergency order and announced a loosening of public health restrictions in the province’s first phase of its recovery plan.
On April 25, 2020, the government released a guidance document for phase 1 of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 recovery plan. The guidance document includes information on public health measures for business, organizations, service providers and the general public to enable reopening.
April 27: As New Brunswick has entered the first phase of the government’s recovery plan, the government confirmed that it expects compliance with the strict guidelines released under its revised state of emergency. More information on the recovery plan can be found under Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.
On April 28, 2020, the government revised its State of Emergency mandatory order to prohibit the entry of temporary foreign workers into New Brunswick effective April 28, 2020.
On April 29, 2020, the New Brunswick government published a regulation applicable to its new COVID-19 Emergency Leave. More information can be found under Employment/labour standards and HR management.
The government also announced that it will arrange engagement sessions with business owners and officials at Public Health, WorkSafeNB and other applicable government departments to help businesses reopen. Opportunities NB will also host a webinar on economic recovery on May 8, 2020.
Further, Premier Higgs announced several steps the government will take to help businesses affected by its prohibition against the entry of temporary foreign workers into New Brunswick, including:
- exploring opportunities to fill vacant positions by recruiting post-secondary students and other individuals unemployed as a result of COVID-19;
- considering ways to employ temporary foreign workers who are already in the province and have also been affected by the pandemic; and
- redeploying or calling back unemployed casual or seasonal workers from government departments to work in the fishery and agriculture sectors.
On April 30, 2020, the New Brunswick government:
- announced that the provincial state of emergency has been extended to May 14, 2020;
- revised its state of emergency order to extend all licenses, registrations, certificates and permits issued under provincial laws that were valid as of March 16, 2020 to June 30, 2020;
- released a guidance document on its emergency leave for employees; and
- announced plans to launch a virtual job-matching platform on May 4, 2020, to assist individuals in finding positions previously filled by temporary foreign workers.
On May 4, 2020, the government launched its virtual job matching platform, JobMatchNB. The platform will connect individuals in New Brunswick with job opportunities throughout the province. Employers may visit the JobMatchNB platform here to add available jobs.
On May 6, 2020, the New Brunswick government encouraged employers to participate in a free virtual career fair being hosted by WorkingNB on May 12-13, 2020. Employers may visit the WorkingNB site here for further details and to sign up.
On May 8, 2020, the revised New Brunswick emergency order instituting the new phase of the recovery plan may be viewed here. For details see Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.
On May 20, 2020, the New Brunswick government requested funding from the federal government for a temporary monthly top-up payment for certain front-line workers. The federal government has not yet provided a response.
The government also confirmed that all unnecessary travel into New Brunswick remains prohibited, and peace officers are authorized to turn away visitors when they attempt to enter.
May 21, 2020: The Government of New Brunswick announced that driver’s licence renewals, which normally require an in-person visit to a Service New Brunswick centre and were thus suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions, are now renewable online.
May 27, 2020: The Government of New Brunswick announced that in light of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government will not proceed with the proposed property tax reductions contained in the 2020-2021 Budget.
On June 5, 2020, the New Brunswick government announced that the provincial state of emergency allowing the province to move to the next phase of its recovery plan was renewed and revised. During this phase of the yellow level, more restrictions are being eased, subject to maintaining physical distancing measures, general guidelines from Public Health and the Guidelines for New Brunswick Workplaces issued by WorkSafeNB. Face coverings required in buildings open to the public and Zone 5 remains orange. There has been one death, and the number of active cases is 14, which are all in Zone 5.
On June 6, 2020, the New Brunswick government partially reversed its directive on face coverings delivered on June 5, 2020. Individuals in public areas must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth where physical distancing cannot be maintained, but the government will no longer require individuals to wear a face covering when entering a building open to the general public (e.g. a business, such as a store).
- specify that the cabinet has the authority to suspend, amend or supersede the operation of provisions of any public act, regulation, rule, municipal bylaw or order during a state of emergency;
- protect individuals and corporations that provide essential services and take reasonable precautions from liability for damages during a state of emergency;
- increase the minimum fine to $5,000 for a corporation violating or failing to comply with a direction, order or requirement made under the Emergency Measures Act;
- require organizations providing critical infrastructure services to prepare emergency plans and submit them to the Emergency Measures Organization for review; and
- specify that peace officers have the authority to stop people, request documentation and conduct investigations in support of enforcing an emergency order during a state of emergency.
On June 18, 2020, the New Brunswick government announced that the Public Health caution against non-essential travel to and from the Campbellton region (Zone 5) has been lifted.
On June 24, 2020, the New Brunswick government announced that the state of emergency will be extended to June 25, and the mandatory order will be revised June 26 to allow Zone 5 (Campbellton region) to move fully into the Yellow level with the rest of the province on June 26.
On June 25, 2020, the New Brunswick government renewed the provincial State of Emergency that will be reviewed on Friday June 26, 2020 to allow for the following:
- Zone 5 (Campbellton region) will move fully into the Yellow level with the rest of the province.
- In all zones of the province, all remaining businesses may open with appropriate distancing and sanitizing, and operational plans respecting WorkSafeNB and Public Health guidelines.
On June 26, 2020, the government’s emergency order was revised to allow for the following:
- the Campbellton region (Zone 5) moves fully into the Yellow level with the rest of the province; and
- all remaining businesses can open in New Brunswick with appropriate distancing and sanitizing, and operational plans respecting WorkSafeNB and Public Health guidelines.
On June 29, 2020, the New Brunswick government released a COVID-19 dashboard with information and location-specific data on the pandemic throughout New Brunswick.
On July 2, 2020, the New Brunswick government announced that all licences, registrations, certificates and permits issued by the government that were valid as of March 16, 2020 will remain valid until July 31, 2020 unless suspended by a court or by another authority under provincial legislation.
On July 14, 2020: The New Brunswick government has made amendments to the essential worker wage top-up program. The program now includes private sector home care support workers and early learning and childcare enhanced support workers who provide direct client care. Private sector home care support workers who provided direct, in-home personal care to clients of the Department of Social Development during the period from March 19 to July 9 will be eligible to receive the benefit.
The amount of the benefit is dependent on the number of hours provided to the client during the identified timeframe: $500 for hours at or above 30 hours a per week; $250 for hours of at least 20 but less than 30 per week; and $100 for hours of at least 10 but less than 20 per week. The benefit will be distributed through the client who received the service to the private sector home care or family support worker.
Enhanced support workers working in early learning and childcare centres will receive monthly payments over 16 weeks of $500 a month and the first and last payments will be split to align with existing payment schedules. They will receive their top-up retroactive to May 19 and it will continue for 16 weeks. This is in recognition of their return to work when the child care sector reopened. Employers will be reimbursed by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
More information about the updated wage top-up is available online.
For information on New Brunswick’s reopening plan and measures see Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.