Provincewide shutdown begins in Nova Scotia
HALIFAX -- As the province locked down Wednesday to slow the spread of COVID-19, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin said the measures are part of a broader strategy to beat back the virus.
"We are limiting movement, we are testing at a record rate to detect the virus and we are rolling out our vaccine," Rankin said as health officials reported 75 new COVID-19 cases. The figure was down from the record 96 cases reported by the province Tuesday.
Rankin meanwhile said the province is working to alleviate child care pressures for essential workers while schools are closed over the next two weeks, asking those who can to give up their spaces temporarily.
He said the province would cover the cost and ensure that spaces are available when the provincial shutdown ends and school resumes.
Under the lockdown, all schools and non-essential indoor services are closed across the province for two weeks, indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to household bubbles and people are prohibited from leaving their communities, except for essential travel.
Some question whether the restrictions go far enough.
"We have to clamp down on people coming in and out of the province," said Darrin Smith.
Marvin Baskerville said it's time for some consistency in the shutdown rules.
"If they’re really serious about shutting it down, shut everybody down -- not just the small guy," Baskerville said.
In Cape Breton, where it was the first day of the full lockdown, some people left their homes only to get a COVID-19 test; some at the membertou entertainment centre and others at Sydney's Centre 200.
Some places that have been busy even through much of the pandemic were empty on Wednesday, such as the Membertou Sport & Wellness Centre, which was one of several new potential exposure sites identified in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and Richmond County.
Graham MacKenzie is a pharmacist in Baddeck and says there was a decent amount of traffic on the streets as people in the rural community stocked up and got ready to be locked down.
"When people knew the lockdown was coming, it got a little busier," MacKenzie said.
Nicole Cathcart owns Nicole's Barber Shop in Glace Bay.
She is among the small business owners who are closed for the next two weeks.
"Your bills are important, making money is important, but your health is the thing that's the most important," Cathcart said.
A staff member at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax was among the newly identified infections. Strang has said the case at Northwood, where 53 of the province's 67 virus-related deaths occurred last spring, is giving him the "least anxiety" during the current outbreak because the majority of residents and staff are already vaccinated.
Janet Simm, Northwood's chief executive said in an interview Wednesday that the case was to be expected, given there are 2,000 workers employed at the facility's two campuses.
"It's not a surprise. We are a reflection of what's happening in our community," said Simm. "The words from Dr. Strang yesterday were very reassuring ... not just for families but for our staff at Northwood as well."
The facility said that 94 per cent of Northwood's nearly 385 residents are fully vaccinated. About 80 per cent of staff have also been vaccinated, and Simm said most of them have received both shots, though she didn't have an exact number.
"We are awaiting the results of the tests, and in the meantime residents are being isolated in their rooms," she said.
With files from CTV Atlantic.