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New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs speaks in Fredericton, on Feb. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is to present the first phase of a recovery plan for the province’s economy later today.

Higgs had been hinting that a plan would come soon, but has also warned that recovery will not be as easy as “flipping a light switch.”

His office confirms Higgs will be joined by the legislature’s COVID-19 all-party committee, including Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers, People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin and Green Party Leader David Coon in making the announcement.

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Director of communications Nicolle Carlin provided no specifics, but says the announcement will include the loosening of some public health restrictions.

New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the fifth consecutive day yesterday, keeping the province’s total of confirmed cases at 118.

The expected announcement comes a day after Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe offered a detailed five-phase plan to reopen parts of his province’s economy.

Under Saskatchewan’s plan, dentist offices, optometry clinics and physical therapy providers can open starting May 4, while some retail stores might be allowed to operate as of May 19.

Officials in Prince Edward Island have also said some outdoor activities and elective surgeries could restart in Canada’s smallest province in early May.

The tentative move in New Brunswick stands in contrast to neighbouring Nova Scotia, where that province reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 850.

There have been a total of 16 deaths so far.

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An outbreak in long-term care homes has led the province’s chief medical officer of health to warn that unlike some other provinces, Nova Scotia is still a “long way from returning to normal.”

Dr. Robert Strang said Thursday that it would be several more weeks before Nova Scotia could begin to ease any of the restrictions in place, adding that when steps are taken, they will be carried out through a “phased approach.”

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