Nova Scotia opening borders to N.B. residents; three new COVID-19 cases Friday
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia is opening its provincial boundary with New Brunswick at 8 a.m. on Saturday, citing low COVID-19 case numbers in both provinces.
Premier Iain Rankin made the announcement Friday -- one day after the four Atlantic premiers announced the return of the regional travel bubble by April 19.
The change means New Brunswick residents travelling to Nova Scotia will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival, and Nova Scotians who visit New Brunswick will not need to isolate when they return home.
Anyone travelling to New Brunswick, including Nova Scotians and New Brunswickers returning from Nova Scotia, are still required to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival.
Premier Iain Rankin says the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, made the recommendation based on the similar epidemiology in both provinces.
"I know this will make life easier for Nova Scotians who have family in New Brunswick or who work in New Brunswick," said Rankin.
Bruce Macfarlane, the communications director for New Brunswick ’s Department of Health, says the decision to ease travel restrictions in New Brunswick "will continue to be closely monitored and may change at any time, based on public health advice."
TIGHTER RESTRICTIONS IN HALIFAX AREA LIFTED
Tighter restrictions that have been in place for the Halifax Regional Municipality and neighbouring municipalities since late February are being lifted effective 8 a.m. on Saturday.
"Lifting the restrictions in the Halifax area means that everyone across the province now follows the same rules," said Strang.
The loosened restrictions will mean:
- The general gathering limit will remain at 10 – indoors and outdoors.
- Household gatherings will be increased from maximum 10 to households plus up to 10 others.
- Immediate family members who live in the same household can gather outdoors, even if that is more than 10 people.
- Restaurants and licensed establishments can serve as late as 11 p.m. and close by midnight.
- Fitness facilities can continue to operate at 75 per cent capacity, and return to only two metres between people for all activities.
Health officials also announced other changes to restrictions provincewide, which include:
- Events hosted by recognized businesses or organizations can include 150 people outdoors, or 50 per cent capacity, to a maximum of 100 indoors. These events include social events, special events, sport events, arts and culture events, festivals, faith gatherings, weddings with receptions, and funerals with receptions and visitation.
- Meetings and training hosted by recognized businesses and organizations can include 150 people outdoors, or 50 per cent capacity, to a maximum of 100 indoors. Organized clubs can break into cohorts of 15 following the province’s day-camp guidelines.
- Physical distancing is required for meetings and training except when emergency responders need to be closer than two metres for training.
- Licensed establishments, unlicensed establishments such as community centres and charities, and organized clubs can host activities such as darts, cards, pool, bowling, bingo or karaoke, following guidelines for these activities.
- Visitors are allowed in long-term care facilities.
- Visitors are allowed in adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services and residents can resume full community access.
- Retail businesses and malls can operate at 75 per cent capacity, and follow other public health measures.
- Sports practices, training, arts and culture rehearsals and performances caninclude 60 people without physical distancing.
- Sports games, competitions and tournaments are allowed within the team's regular competitive schedule.
- Spectators are allowed if the business or organization hosting the event has a gathering plan that follows event guidelines.
Adult day programs for seniors remain closed provincewide until seniors living outside long-term care facilities have an opportunity to receive COVID-19 vaccine.
THREE NEW CASES
Nova Scotia health officials are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
All of the new cases are in the province's Central zone, and are close contacts to previously reported cases.
Three more infections in Nova Scotia are recovered, leaving the total number of active cases at 17.
"Nova Scotians have worked extremely hard to be in the position we are in today and I want to thank all Nova Scotians for that," said Strang. "I recognize it has not been easy but your ongoing support for these public health measures is what continues to make Nova Scotia one of the safest places in North America."
VACCINE GROUPS EXPANDED
Nova Scotians over the age of 80 who were born between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 can begin booking their COVID-19 vaccine appointments on Monday at 7 a.m.
"In addition to the community clinic appointments being made available next week, 2,600 appointments will also open for booking at 15 more pharmacies on Monday," a spokesperson for the province wrote in a news release Friday. "These pharmacies will be for anyone who is 80 and older and will offer the Moderna vaccine."
N.S. CASE DATA
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,549 tests on Thursday
The province has completed 398,638 tests since the pandemic began.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,680 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 1,597 cases have recovered and 66 people have died due to the novel coronavirus.
There is currently no one in hospital due to COVID-19.
There were 998 tests administered between March 12 and March 17 at the rapid-testing pop-up sites in Upper Tantallon, Elmsdale and Halifax.
There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central Zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.
The numbers reflect where a person lives and not where their sample was collected.
- Western Zone: 106 cases (7 active cases)
- Central Zone: 1,355 cases (10 active cases)
- Northern Zone: 132 cases (0 active cases)
- Eastern Zone: 87 cases (0 active cases)
STATE OF EMERGENCY RENEWED
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to April 4, 2021.
Nova Scotia's COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the amount of vaccines that have been administered to date.
As of Friday, 58,036 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far. Of those, 37,986 were first doses and 20,050 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.
Of the vaccines administered 35,197 went to health care workers, and 6,602 were long-term care residents.
As of Tuesday, the province has received a total of 104,580 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and are holding 5,308 in reserve for second doses and planned clinics.
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.
COVID ALERT APP
Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.
The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
LIST OF SYMPTOMS
Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose/nasal congestion
With files from The Canadian Press.