SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Visitor restrictions at New Brunswick long-term care facilities will remain in place for an additional two weeks once the province enters a 'Green phase' of COVID-19 recovery.

"It is really just for our long-term care (facilities) to give them time to deescalate their situations," said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard on Wednesday. "Social Development and Public Health are currently developing guidelines and recommendations for long-term care facilities for when our province reaches 'green.'"

The New Brunswick government says it will ease COVID-19 restrictions under the 'Green phase' when 75 per cent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.

The Department of Health is tracking the number of long-term care employees who've been vaccinated, and has made note of 19 facilities out of 547 where employee vaccination rates sit below 50 per cent (including nine per cent of long-term care facilities in the Edmundston health zone, and seven per cent in the Miramichi health zone).

Cecile Cassista, executive director of the New Brunswick Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights, says vaccinations should be a requirement for all long-term care staff and anybody entering those facilities.

"I really think all of this comes down to a mandatory provision," says Cassista.

Shephard says vaccination numbers for long-term care employees have been trending higher as of late, with 80.2 per cent of all staff receiving at least one vaccine dose or signaling they plan to get one.