Nova Scotia announces COVID-19 reopening plan, first phase scheduled to begin June 2
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia health officials announced the province's COVID-19 reopening plan on Friday, which involves a five-phase process.
“Our phased plan will allow us to safely enjoy summer with public health measures in place while we work at getting most of our population fully vaccinated,” said Premier Iain Rankin. “Then we should be able to further ease restrictions in the fall and ease in to a new normal of living with COVID-19.”
The province says each of the phases, which are expected to last between two to four weeks long, depends on COVID-19 activity in the province, public health and testing capacity, hospitalizations and vaccination rates.
Phase one of Nova Scotia's reopening plan is set to begin June 2. In this phase, the key changes to restrictions will include the reopening of some businesses, outdoor visits at long-term care facilities will be permitted, and outdoor gathering limits will increase.
"In subsequent phases, businesses will gradually increase capacity to the maximum capacity possible with public health measures, such as physical distancing, gathering limits will further increase, events and activities will be allowed with increasing numbers of attendees, and border restrictions will start easing," read the release.
According to Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, more than 50 per cent of Nova Scotians have received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
“In deciding exactly when to move to each new phase, we will consider case numbers, hospitalizations and use of health system resources as well as the percentage of Nova Scotians who’ve been vaccinated. The more people who get vaccinated, the more we can reopen our province,” said Strang.
As part of phase one, travel restrictions within most of the province will also be lifted, although public health is asking everyone to continue to avoid non-essential travel into and out of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and into and out of the Halifax Regional Municipality, Hubbards, Milford, Lantz, Elmsdale, Enfield, Mount Uniacke, Ecum Secum and Trafalgar.
"A final decision will be made about travel for those areas of the province early next week, based on COVID-19 activity," wrote the province in a news release on Friday.
Other restrictions that are expected to ease effective 8 a.m. on June 2 when Nova Scotia enters phase one of their reopening plan include:
- Nova Scotians can gather outdoors with a consistent social group of up to 10 people without physical distance.
- The limit for indoor gatherings remains the people you live with; two households with one or two people each can still join together but they must be the same two households all the time
- Faith gatherings can be held outdoors with a limit of 10 plus officiants when hosted by a recognized organization; drive-in services are allowed with no limit on numbers
- Wedding and funeral ceremonies remain limited to five plus officiants indoors but can increase to 10 plus officiants outdoors; there can be no receptions or visitations.
- Restaurants and licensed establishments can open patios at their maximum capacity with physical distance between tables, a limit of 10 people per table and masks when people are not eating or drinking; they must stop service by 11 p.m. and close by midnight.
- All retail stores can operate at 25 per cent capacity, ensuring physical distance.
- Personal services such as hair salons, barber shops and spas can operate by appointment only following their sector plan but cannot offer services that require removing the customer’s mask.
- Fitness and recreation facilities can offer outdoor activities with a limit of 10 people with physical distancing, or multiple groups of 10 that are distanced on their own property, as well as one-on-one personal training indoors.
- Outdoor pools can open with a limit of 10 people at a time with physical distancing.
- Organized sports practices can have 10 people outdoors without physical distancing, or multiple groups of 10 that are distanced.
- Professional arts and culture organizations can hold rehearsals with 15 people indoors and amateur rehearsals can have 10 people outdoors without physical distancing.
- Drive-in theatres can operate with no limit on numbers.
- Campgrounds can offer season and short-term camping following their sector plan with distance between campsites.
- Residents of long-term care facilities can have visitors outdoors; visitors must wear masks but no physical distance is required if the resident is fully vaccinated.
- Recreation activities and services such as hairstyling can resume for fully vaccinated residents of long-term care facilities.
- Fully vaccinated residents of homes licensed by the Department of Health and Wellness under the Homes for Special Care Act can resume access to their communities for work or school.
- Fully vaccinated residents of homes licensed by the Department of Community Service under the Homes for Special Care Act can resume access to their communities for work, therapy, recreation and family visits.
- More people can get exceptions to enter Nova Scotia for end-of-life visits with immediate family members.
- Students from within Canada can apply to enter the province for in-person or virtual studies if they are enrolled in the summer semester.
The province is reminding all Nova Scotians that do not follow the public health measures can be fined. The fine is now in the amount of $2,000.
A passenger testing program has also been started at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport to prepare for the easing of border restrictions through the summer and fall. Other border testing measures are being considered, according to public health.
Phase two is expected to take effect two to four weeks after phase one, as long as 60 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
- No restrictions on travel within Nova Scotia.
- Increase informal gathering limit indoors to 10 people without physical distance (household members + visitors).
- Increase informal gathering limit outdoors to 25 people without physical distance.
- Seasonal property owners, people moving to Nova Scotia permanently can enter with 14-day quarantine.
- Gyms and fitness facilities can operate at 50 per cent capacity.
- Households can have more than one designated shopper.
- Personal services by appointment only following sector plan, can resume all services, including ones that requiring removing a client’s mask.
- Museums and libraries open at 25 per cent capacity.
- Professional artists, musicians, dancers and actors can rehearse with 15 people indoors and 25 outdoors without distancing or masks. Amateurs can rehearse in groups of 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors without distancing or masks (no in-person performances).
- Sports practices can have groups of 10 people indoors or 25 outdoors without distancing or masks (no games).
- Meetings, training and clubs can have limit of 10 people indoors or 25 outdoors with physical distance.
- Day camps can operate with limit of 15 per group indoors and outdoors, including staff and volunteers, without distancing.
- Adult day programs can operate following guidelines
- Indoor dining at restaurants with maximum of 10 people per table. Masks required except when eating and drinking.
- All retail businesses open at 50 per cent with public health measures like distancing and masks.
Phase three in Nova Scotia's reopening plan is scheduled to take effect two to four weeks after Phase two, as long as 65 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
- Atlantic Bubble opens based on vaccine status, border testing strategy and epidemiology of other provinces.
- Travellers from outside Atlantic Canada can enter with 14-day quarantine.
- Increase informal gathering limit indoors to household plus 10 people without physical distance.
- Further increase capacity for all sectors.
- Gyms and fitness facilities can open at 75 per cent capacity.
- Restaurant hours of service stop at midnight.
- All retail businesses open at 75 per cent capacity with public health measures like distancing and masks.
- Spectators, special events, faith gatherings, meetings, training and clubs hosted by recognized business or organization increased limits to be determined.
- Sports games and arts and culture performances allowed with no change to limits. Spectators allowed with event gathering limits.
- Personal services can open fully following their sector plan.
- Overnight camps can operate following guidelines with cohorts of 15 including staff and volunteers.
Phase four will take effect two to four weeks after Phase three, as long as 75 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
- Canadian travellers from outside of Atlantic Canada can enter; quarantine requirements may be determined by vaccine status, border testing strategy and epidemiology of other provinces.
- Increase indoor household gathering limit to 25 people with no physical distancing.
- Groups of up to 10 can gather indoors and outdoors without physical distancing.
- Increase informal gathering limit outdoors to 50 people without physical distance.
- Retail open at maximum capacity possible with public health measures including distancing and masks.
- Sports, professional and amateur arts and culture: 50 participants with no physical distancing or masks for practices, games, league play, rehearsals and in-person performances.
- Spectators, special events, faith gatherings, meetings, training and clubs hosted by recognized business or organization will have increased limits, to be determined.
- Gyms and fitness facilities can open – the capacity to be determined
- Day camps can operate with a limit of 30 per group indoors and outdoors, including staff and volunteers, without distancing.
- Family visits outdoors with long-term care residents who are not fully vaccinated.
Phase five will take effect two to four weeks after Phase four, as long as 75 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated with two doses.
- Living with COVID
- Reduce border restrictions
- Increase gathering limits
- Ease public health measures
- Federal regulations and requirements need to be considered
IN-PERSON CLASSES RESUME FOR SOME STUDENTS
In-person classes will also resume June 2, at all Nova Scotia public and private schools outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Sydney.
Also on June 2, licensed child-care centres and family day care homes across the province can return to 100 per cent capacity.
The reopening decisions are based on advice from public health and pediatricians at the IWK Health Centre.
At-home learning will continue for students in HRM and Sydney, but there will be some exceptions for students with highly complex needs. School officials will contact those families early next week with additional details about a June 2 start date.
Public health, in consultation with the province, will continue to assess in-person classes for other HRM and Sydney students.
“We know that in-person schooling is best for children, and thanks to Nova Scotians following the rules, we can safely reopen schools to many of our students,” Rankin said in a release.
“We want students in their classes with their peers, finishing the year strong.”
Families will receive more information from their schools or regional centres for education/Conseil scolaire acadien provincial later Friday.
All school gyms provincewide will remain closed to community use, but at schools that are open, teams will be allowed to practice inside the school but there will be no games.
At-home learning will continue for students at:
Halifax Regional Centre for Education:
- all schools
Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education:
- Sydney Academy
- Sherwood Park Education Centre
- Whitney Pier Memorial Middle School
- Brookland Elementary School
- Shipyard Elementary
- Cusack Elementary School
- Harbourside Elementary School
- Adult High School
- Riverview High School
- Malcolm Munroe Middle School
- Sydney River Elementary School
- Riverside School
- Marion Bridge Elementary
- Mountainview Elementary
- Coxheath Elementary
- Robin Foote Elementary
Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education:
- Uniacke District School
- Elmsdale District School
- Enfield District School
- Maple Ridge Elementary
- Riverside Education Centre
- Hants East Rural High School
Conseil scolaire acadien provincial schools in HRM and Sydney:
- École des Beaux-Marais
- École Bois-Joli
- École du Carrefour
- École secondaire Mosaïque
- École secondaire du Sommet
- École Mer et Monde
- École Beaubassin
- École du Grand-Portage
- Centre scolaire Étoile de l’Acadie
CHILD CARE OPENS TO FULL CAPACITY
Families whose circumstances mean they are not ready to access their child-care space may continue to keep their child home and have their space held until June 30 without paying fees.
Families are encouraged to talk to their providers regarding the timing of re-enrolling their child in licensed child care.
As of July 1, families must pay their fees or withdraw from child care.
The province will continue to support the child-care sector with emergency funding as needed until June 30, including operational and staffing costs incurred as a result of a delayed return by some families.
The province will also continue to provide personal protective equipment to centres.