HALIFAX -- After months of sitting idle, the Scotiabank Centre in downtown Halifax is getting ready to welcome the public back.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the downtown Halifax arena as well as the "entire events industry," said CEO Carrie Cussons.

The facility will officially reopen on Oct. 3, when the Halifax Mooseheads have their home opener.

"We’ve been working in close collaboration with the Halifax Mooseheads to develop a comprehensive plan that allows us to safely host their season and give fans the opportunity to cheer loud and proud for their home team," said Cussons. 

"After an unprecedented spring and summer, the Halifax Mooseheads are thrilled to be on the verge of returning to the ice for another exciting season of QMJHL hockey. We've altered our schedule. We've changed our seating plan. We've worked hand-in-hand with our partners at Scotiabank Centre to provide a safe, responsible environment for players, fans, arena staff and members of our organization," Bobby Smith, the majority owner of Halifax Mooseheads, said in a news release.

To ensure the health and safety of fans and staff, the facility says they will implement all standard health and safety guidelines related to non-medical masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, and contact tracing.

Scotiabank Centre says the facility will be divided into separate zones to maintain bubbles up to a maximum of 200 people with washrooms, concessions, and entrance/exit points. Tickets will be sold in groups of up to 10 within the same bubble, respecting public health gathering guidelines.

Attendees will be required to wear non-medical masks at all times, except when consuming food and beverage, and tickets will be mobile-only to minimize requirement for close contact.

New cleaning and hygiene protocols have been put in place to ensure thorough and regular disinfecting of frequently-touched locations and surfaces, including deep cleaning and sanitization prior to and post event. In addition, contactless hand-sanitizing stations will be located throughout the venue and at entry points with signage to reinforce the importance of hygiene etiquette. 

Although Scotiabank Centre will be reopening, there will be a 2,000 person capacity limit.

"The 2,000 capacity limit is definitely different than what we're historically having, but we're just really excited that we're going to get 2,000 people back down here to the downtown core, eating in restaurants, coming in to see an amazing game on the ice and perhaps even make a whole weekend out of it and saying in hotels," said Cusson

Meanwhile, the standing committee on health met at the Nova Scotia legislature for the first time in six months on Tuesday.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, and other health-care professionals faced questions from MLAs inside the committee about the COVID-19 response.

"Overall, Nova Scotia's response was swift and appropriate. This is clear by our epidemiology. Our goal was to flatten the curve and we've achieved that by working together," said Strang.

While opposition MLAs were pleased to see the committee take place, PC leader Tim Houston didn’t get the answers he was looking for when it comes to the province’s capacity for cancer screening.

"The only measure we have to determine the minister’s sense of urgency on resuming these tests is the information he has and is seeking," says Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston. "I’m disappointed that Nova Scotians still have no clarity on when they can expect to receive the treatment they need that had been cancelled."

Health Minister Randy Delorey was not at the committee and Houston said witnesses gave no indication that Nova Scotia's testing capacity for screenings like mammograms, colorectal testing, etc. would resume or increase to address the backlog.

"Dr. Strang made clear that we are going to be living with COVID-19," said Houston. "Minister Delorey needs to direct the resources and properly guide the healthcare system to ensure it doesn’t fall further behind on testing."

Meanwhile, NDP MLA Sue LeBlanc challenged comments made by Dr. Kevin Orrell when speaking about the state of long-term care before the pandemic.

"Long-term care in Canada, the standard of care is such that without a pandemic, we probably would have gotten by for hundreds of years as it was," Dr. Orrell said.

That prompted this reply from Leblanc.

"I have to say, I’m a little surprised by your comments that without a pandemic, we could have continued on in long-term care the way we’ve been going for hundreds of years," Leblanc said. "I think that that is somewhat short-sighted, given that we have many, many reports that were written long before this COVID-19 pandemic talking about the terrible state of long-term care, at least in Nova Scotia."