New Brunswick — There has been a great deal of confusion the past two weeks about the province’s decision to mandate expensive hotel quarantines for those travelling to the province. This weekend, it was announced that there would be exceptions to this rule, although many were uncertain as to what would make an exception applicable.
On Monday, this plan was clarified during a televised COVID update — they were planning to make a game show to determine who could self-isolate at home.
The program, entitled So You Want To Self-Isolate, will be entirely funded by the provincial government, with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Russell serving as executive producer.
One of the biggest barriers, said Russell, was finding a suitable host for the program, despite the risk of exposure.
“We asked James Mullinger to host, and even he said no,” she said. “And that guy does everything.”
After much deliberation, it was determined that Premier Blaine Higgs himself would host the program. While nervous, he said that he has gained confidence over the past year doing televised heath briefings, and believes that he has developed a certain “Trebek-like charm.”
“Pfft…yeah, maybe Trebek now,” said Russell, scoffing. “Oh wait…please don’t quote me on that.”
After a good deal of money changed hands, The Manatee’s request to be in the audience for the pilot’s filming was ultimately approved.
The large, spherical set was located in Saint John’s TD Station. Built quickly, decorations were limited to four monitors for the contestants to appear on, overhead lights, and three large paper-mache COVID molecules hanging from the rafters by string.
As the show began, the premier walked on set wearing a sparkling black suit. After a brief explanation of the game directly to camera, he turned to the monitors to face the contestants.
The first contestant was a stocky man of about 50. He was visibly uncomfortable.
“Tell us about yourself,” prompted Higgs.
“Uh…Hi. My name is Gerald Sheenan. I’m originally from Miramichi, having moved to Ottawa back in 2017,” he explained. “I’m here because my father passed away recently. I would really like to isolate in his home so that I may tend to his affairs…I am only able to take three weeks off from work, after all.”
Higgs appeared to dramatically consider this, really hamming it up for the digital audience. His finger hovered over two large buttons. One red, the other yellow. Turning to give a conspiratorial wink to the camera, he slammed his hand down onto the red button.
On the monitor, obscuring Sheenan’ face, the words “HOTEL STAY!” appeared in bold letters.
A loud, automated “booing” sound could be heard.
“But I—” Sheenan began, but his connection was quickly severed as Higgs moved onto the next contestant, a young red-haired woman.
“Hello, darling,” said Higgs, in a heavily flirtatious tone. “What’s your story? Tell us about yourself.”
“Well, like, I’m actually here because my school, Colby College, in Maine, says I flunked, even though I didn’t even know we were supposed to be going to classes during the pandemic.”
“What a shame,” said Higgs, shaking his head. “What a shame. So what are…er, were you taking?”
“Um…history, I think? No! Communications. But now I can’t do that. So now my dad says I gotta work at some stupid fish factory.”
At this, the premier’s ears perked up.
“Which stupid fish factory, pray tell?” he asked.
“Uh…Cookie’s, or something.”
Rather than pressing one of the two buttons in front of him, Higgs excitedly pulled a lever to his left. The stadium filled with lights, as red, yellow, and orange balloons rained down. The words “TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKER” flashed on the all of the monitors.
“No isolation needed,” he said, giving a broad smile to the monitor.
“Okay,” she said. “Whatever.”