HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia will allow increased gathering limits for sports and performing arts beginning next month.

Effective October 1, the number of people who can participate in sports and performing arts without physical distancing will increase from 10 to 50.

"Art and sport are vital to our physical, mental and social well-being. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put some of these activities on hold," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. "Nova Scotia continues to see low COVID-19 activity, allowing us to safely resume important activities Nova Scotians enjoy."

The province says this will allow most sports to resume full team practises and competition, and larger rehearsals and performances for performing arts.

This change also applies to recreational league sports, like adult hockey, and drop-in activities, like open swims and skates.

Unorganized or casual games, like pickup basketball or soccer in the park, must adhere to existing gathering rules of small groups of 10 without physical distancing within a maximum of 50 with physical distancing.

The gathering limit of 50 without physical distancing includes:

  • players/participants, officials, coaches, instructors or anyone else who is required to be on or near the field of play
  • performers, directors, cast, crew or anyone else required to be within the performance space  

The gathering limits for day camps and after school programs remains at 15.

The gathering limit for events and performances is 250 outside with physical distancing and 50 per cent of a facility's capacity, up to 200 inside, with physical distancing and mandatory masks for spectators

"This will be welcome news, especially for children and families for whom participation in sport and other activities is such an important part of their lives," said Leo Glavine, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage. "Getting back to the arts, culture and sport activities we love requires that we follow the guidelines in place to protect our health and safety and that of others in our communities." 

Existing gathering requirements for audiences/spectators at sport/recreation facilities and performances venues must continue to be followed.

All organizations are asked to have a rollback plan in place, should gathering limits need to be reduced again.

As of Friday, Nova Scotia has no active cases of COVID-19, and has gone eleven days since reporting a new case.

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to October 4, unless the government terminates or extends it. 

This is a developing story, more to come.