In this previous article, we asked, “Is New Brunswick Ready For “The Dance?” We highlighted the importance of developing a plan to help businesses prepare and we raised several key questions.
Now we want to put forward a draft framework of what that plan could look like. This is a hypothetical scenario — to get us thinking. What would you change?
A Draft Framework Plan
Let’s assume we are basing it on a few key decisions:
- We keep borders closed in the early stages, maintain travel restrictions and quarantine requirements to protect us from nearby regions with a high number of cases.
- We re-open schools and daycare centres.
- We widely adopt the use of protective measures, such as masks, distancing, deep cleaning, thermometer checks, and more. The government has secured the supply chain for these products in advance of each stage.
- We continue to prioritize and increase our capacity for broad testing, contact tracing and monitoring quarantines, always being prepared to re-adjust restrictions at any time that we experience pockets of new infections.
Phase 1 — Our Current Phase, “The Hammer”
Goal: To flatten the curve to avoid overwhelming the healthcare capacity.
Schools were closed on March 13. The State of emergency was declared on March 18. Social distancing measures are now required under the law. All non-essential businesses have been closed. On March 25, the province added a ban of non-essential inter-provincial travel and checkpoints at provincial borders.
Exit Criteria: When key metrics indicate that we have successfully suppressed the first wave. Following the AEI expert recommendations, for example, we exit when we see 14 days of reductions in new cases, or to be more conservative, 14 days of reductions in active cases. With these criteria, plus a buffer to get ready, we would move to Phase 2 on Monday, May 4.
Phase 2 — Initial Maintenance (The start of “The Dance”)
Goal: To keep the curve flat, while gradually re-opening the economy.
Key elements of this phase include:
- Maintain border checkpoints and existing travel restrictions.
- Require the use of masks in most indoor public spaces including grocery stores, and public transportation. Use thermometers as checks for higher risk areas.
- Re-open non-essential businesses and organizations that are able to meet social distancing requirements at all times (for staff and customers).
- Set a max size limit for groups, initially using a small number like 25, while adhering to social distancing and protective measures.
- Due to the above requirements, most restaurants, bars, and other public spaces will likely remain closed until phase 3.
- Child care and schools re-open, coinciding with caregivers returning to work. Consider following the model used by schools in Taiwan, or using a staged approach by grade level such as Denmark (re-opening on April 20).
- Maintain current restrictions for seniors’ residences and guidelines for limiting interaction with seniors and those with health risks.
Exit Criteria: Once we have been in this phase for 3 weeks without seeing any new waves of outbreaks causing a rise in the active cases or hospitalizations. In this example, we would move to phase 3 on June 1.
Phase 3 — Maintenance Phase (“The Dance”)
Goal: Fully re-open the local economy while maintaining a flat curve.
- Businesses continue to re-open in compliance with guidelines.
- Adjust max size limit for groups to a larger limit, such as 50, while adhering to social distancing and protective measures.
- Restaurants and other businesses where people are in extended close proximity to each other (ex: dental services, hair salons, massage therapy) could reopen with special procedures and protective equipment.
- Summer camps and programs for youth can open.
- The border remains closed to all non-residents and non-essential travel. We expand the definition of essential to include specialists needed to support the operation of New Brunswick businesses (engineers, inspectors, etc.).
- All residents returning to New Brunswick must self-isolate for 14 days.
- Consider opening the province to travellers from other Atlantic provinces who have also achieved suppression of the virus, where no 14-day isolation would be required.
Exit Criteria: Once we have been in this phase for 4 weeks without seeing any new waves of outbreaks causing a rise in the active cases or hospitalizations. In this example, we would move to phase 4 on July 1.
Phase 4 — Long Term Maintenance Phase (“The Dance”)
Goal: Continue to relax restrictions, fully re-opening all businesses, while maintaining a flat curve until we get to a vaccine or other new normal.
In this phase:
- Adjust max size limit for groups to a larger limit, such as 100, while adhering to social distancing and protective measures.
- Open the province to travellers from other Canadian provinces (including air travel), but they must isolate for 14 days (consider easing this requirement later in this phase if the data supports it).
- Determine which summer sports leagues can open, if any.
- Tourism should focus on promoting New Brunswick “stay-cations” and possible visitors from other Atlantic provinces.
- Keep ports closed for cruise ship traffic for 2020 season, unless U.S. situation improves sufficiently.
Exit Criteria: We remain in this phase until a vaccine or another effective treatment is available, making it safe to return to normal. This would likely be sometime in 2021.
Phase 5 — Back to Normal
Everything returns to normal including re-opening of large sports venues, concerts, large group gatherings et cetera, and end all social distancing guidelines.
The above plan is no doubt missing some key elements or considerations, but we present this to start the discussion. We need a plan to re-open that will give businesses the confidence to prepare and make wise decisions so we come out of this as healthy as possible — physically and economically.
In the meantime, we encourage businesses in each sector to begin collaborating on what they need to adjust to meet these new realities and to share their suggestions broadly.
New Brunswick has done an amazing job. Our leaders have risen to the challenge of this crisis. Thank you. We now have an opportunity to lead the way to recovery while keeping this virus at bay.
This is the second in a two-part series.
Part One: Is New Brunswick Ready For ‘The Dance’?
Huddle publishes commentaries from groups and individuals on important business issues facing the Maritimes. These commentaries do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Huddle. To submit a commentary for consideration, contact editor Mark Leger: firstname.lastname@example.org.