N.S. announces 'near full-lockdown measures' for Halifax area as COVID-19 cases continue to climb
HALIFAX -- As Nova Scotia reports 38 new cases of COVID-19 – the largest single-day case increase in nearly one year – the province's premier announced tighter restrictions in the Halifax area and some surrounding communities in order to help curb the spread of the virus.
"We are using these restrictions as a circuit breaker to prevent our case count from increasing," said Premier Iain Rankin. "We are taking quick action to limit the opportunity for the virus to spread any further in local communities."
During a news conference on Thursday, Rankin said effective 8 a.m. on Friday tightened measures will be put into place, which apply to the Halifax Regional Municipality, as well as the communities of Hubbards, Milford, Lantz, Elmsdale, Enfield, South Uniacke, Ecum Secum, and Trafalgar.
Public health says people should avoid travelling into and out of any of these areas unless it is necessary travel, which includes for school, work, health care, legal requirements, and family visitation under the purview of the Department of Community Services.
"Travel for shopping, social events, family visits, practices, or rehearsals are not considered necessary," wrote the province in a news release on Thursday.
The new restrictions, which will be in place until at least May 20, include:
- the gathering limit is five, both indoors and outdoors
- no social events, special events, festivals, arts/cultural events, sports events, faith gatherings, wedding receptions, or funeral visitation or receptions
- wedding and funeral ceremonies hosted by a recognized business or organization can have five people, plus officiants
- no meetings or training except mental health and addictions support groups, which can have 25 people with physical distancing and masks
- no sports practices, training, games, competitions or tournaments
- no arts and culture rehearsals or in-person performances
- virtual gatherings and performances can be held with a maximum of five people in one location
- restaurants and licensed establishments are closed to seated service
- licensed and unlicensed establishments cannot host activities such as darts, cards, pool and bowling
- retail businesses and malls can operate at 25 per cent capacity and must follow other public health measures
- personal services such as hair salons, barber shops and spas are closed
- unregulated health professions such as massage therapy and other complementary or alternative medicine providers are closed, with the exception of continuing care workers, home-care workers, ocularists and podiatrists
- 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
- outdoor fitness and recreation businesses can operate with 25 people and physical distancing
- 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
- 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 Nova Scotia Art Gallery are closed, but libraries can offer pick-up and drop-off of books and other materials
- there will be no visitors or volunteers allowed inside long-term care facilities but designated care providers can continue to provide normal service and outdoor visits can be arranged
- 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
- all adult day programs for seniors remain closed provincewide
- in private indoor workplaces such as offices or warehouses, masks are mandatory effective April 23 in all common areas, places where there is interaction with the public, areas with poor ventilation, and areas where distance cannot be maintained
"We understand this is disruptive, but it is necessary to regain control of the virus," said Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health. "I'm asking all Nova Scotians, especially residents in these areas, to do their part to help us fight COVID-19 by supporting and following these restrictions."
Strang says outdoor activities are still encouraged for "physical and mental wellbeing" as long as gathering limits are being followed. Officials reminded Nova Scotians that anyone who does not listen to gathering limits can be fined. That fine is $1,000 for each person present at an illegal gathering.
SEVERAL DARTMOUTH SCHOOLS MOVE TO ONLINE LEARNING
Amid a return of lockdown restrictions for the Halifax Regional Municipality, several schools in Dartmouth, N.S. are moving to virtual learning for two weeks due to COVID-19 outbreak.
"Our schools are being impacted by increased COVID-19 activity. That's why some schools will be closed for two weeks starting tomorrow," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health during Thursday’s update.
Beginning Friday, April 23, the following schools, which are in an area of increased COVID-19 activity, will close to students and move to at-home learning for a two-week period:
- Auburn Drive High family of schools
- Cole Harbour District High family of schools
- Dartmouth High family of schools
- École secondaire Mosaïque
- École du Carrefour
- École Bois-Joli
All other public schools and daycares in the province will continue with in-school learning at this time, however, masks will be mandatory for all students effective April 23.
NOVA SCOTIANS ENCOURAGED TO SEEK ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING
Public health is strongly encouraging Nova Scotians to seek asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, particularly if they have had several social interactions, even with their own social circle.
COVID-19 tests can be booked through the provinces online self-assessment COVID-19 tool, or by calling 811.
People can also visit one of Nova Scotia’s many rapid pop-up testing sites that continue to operate throughout the province.
An earlier version of this story had an incorrect date on when masks will be mandatory for all students. The province issued a correction and that date is Friday, April 23.