'These next two weeks are critical': N.S. to enter 14-day lockdown as COVID-19 cases continue to rise
HALIFAX -- As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Nova Scotia, the province is implementing a provincewide lockdown beginning Wednesday morning.
Effective 8 a.m. on Wednesday, the entire province will be in a "circuit-breaker" for at least two weeks. During that time, tighter restrictions will be in place, which include closing all non-essential retail businesses, reducing gatherings to household bubbles and closing all public and private schools across the province.
The following restrictions will take effect at 8 a.m. on Wednesday and will remain until at least May 12:
RESTRICTIONS FOR GATHERINGS, SCHOOLS AND DAYCARE
- Nova Scotians can only gather indoors or outdoors with their household bubble, which is the people they live with
- households of two or less people can socialize with one or two others but they must be the same people for this two-week period
- no unnecessary travel between communities; a community is defined as the municipality where you live. People should stay as close to home as possible when accessing essential or necessary services or products
- all public and private schools are closed
Daycares in the province will remain open at this time, focusing on providing service to individuals providing essential services or who have no other child-care options. Mandatory masking for staff, visitors and children over two years old in child-care centres is also now required in indoor settings.
"This is not the time for half measures," said Premier Iain Rankin. "We need strong, quick action to drive this virus out of our province. If we took an incremental approach, we'd likely end up in the same place. We need to regain control over this virus."
Along with the changes to masks in daycare centres, masks are also now required outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained, including in playgrounds and parks. Mandatory masking is also now required in private indoor workplaces, such as offices or warehouses, in all common areas where there is interaction with the public, areas with poor ventilation, and areas where physical-distancing cannot be maintained.
RESTRICTIONS FOR RETAIL AND BUSINESSES
Non-essential retail stores in Nova Scotia are closing for in-person service effective 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
Stores that are considered essential and can remain operating at a 25 per cent capacity, include:
- pharmaceutical products, medicine and medical devices
- personal hygiene products
- cleaning products
- baby and child products
- gas stations and garages
- computer and cellphone service and repair
- electronic and office supplies
- hardware supplies
- pet and animal supplies
Nova Scotia Liquor Commission stores are also allowed to remain operating at 25 per cent capacity.
Restaurants and licensed establishments are closed for dine-in service, however, contactless take-out and delivery is still allowed. Personal hair salons, barber shops, and spas are required to close.
Other businesses required to close Wednesday morning include Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax and Sydney, N.S., First Nations gaming establishments, and VLTs.
RESTRICTIONS FOR EVENTS, RECREATION, ARTS, AND CULTURE
Changes to restrictions surrounding events, recreation, arts and culture were also announced during Tuesday’s news conference.
Some of the changes made involve wedding and funeral ceremonies where no more than five people, plus the officiants, are able to attend under the province’s “circuit breaker.”
Meetings and training sessions are also no longer allowed, except for mental health and addictions support groups, which can continue with a maximum of 10 people with physical-distancing maintained and masks.
Other restrictions announced on Tuesday related to events, recreation, arts, and culture, include:
- no social events, special events, festivals, arts/cultural events, sports events, faith gatherings, wedding receptions, or funeral visitation or receptions
- virtual gatherings and performances can be held with a maximum of five people in one location
- all fitness, recreational and sports facilities are closed
- licensed and unlicensed establishments cannot host activities such as darts, cards, pool and bowling
- indoor fitness facilities like gyms and yoga studios and sport and recreation facilities like pools, arenas, tennis courts and large multipurpose recreation facilities are closed
- businesses and organizations offering a wide variety of indoor recreation activities are closed, such as indoor play areas, arcades, climbing facilities, dance classes and music lessons
- Outdoor recreation activities, including individual sports, are allowed and encouraged; outdoor fitness and recreation businesses and organized clubs can operate with a maximum of five people and physical distancing
- museums, libraries and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia are closed, but libraries can offer pick-up and drop-off of books and other materials
RESTRICTIONS FOR LONG-TERM CARE AND SPECIAL CARE HOMES
Restriction changes related to long-term care and special care homes, include:
- there will be no visitors or volunteers allowed inside long-term care facilities except for designated care providers and no visits to the community
- all adult day programs for seniors closed
- all homes licensed by the Department of Community Service under the Homes for Special Care Act cannot have visitors and residents cannot have community access
- all adult day programs for persons with disabilities funded by the Department of Community Services will be closed except for scheduled vaccine clinics at three of these programs
Strang says given the case numbers in the Halifax area, there is a very high risk of spread across the province.
"We're in a different situation than we were a year ago. COVID variants require us to act faster, be firmer, and have a broader reach," said Strang. "There are already concerning signs in Cape Breton of potential community spread."
"These next two weeks are critical. We will continue to rollout our vaccine program as we get more supply coming in. But as we continue to vaccinate we have to continue to limit our movement," said Rankin.
N.S. TO RECEIVE HELP FROM CANADIAN ARMED FORCES: TRUDEAU
Nova Scotia will soon be receiving help from the Canadian Armed Forces, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday.
In a live COVID-19 news presser on Tuesday, Trudeau said the federal government is sending 60 Canadian Armed Forces members to testing centres in Nova Scotia to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Across Nova Scotia, and especially in the Halifax region, numbers have risen quickly and the province requested help so... we're sending support," said Trudeau.