Some question if Nova Scotia's new COVID-19 restrictions are a double standard
HALIFAX -- A large number of Nova Scotians are under tighter restrictions again, limiting live sporting and arts events and restricting hours for restaurants in Halifax and parts of some surrounding counties.
Some want the province to explain the rationale behind this latest round of limitations that some see as a double standard.
Packed parking lots at the big box stores are a typical sight -- even during the pandemic, but it's an image that makes some wonder why other activities are a no-go -- until at least March 26.
"It felt frustrating, it felt disheartened to see," said hockey parent Josh Norwood, who took pictures on the weekend of a lineup at a new video game complex in Dartmouth called the Playdium at Dartmouth Crossing.
Officials say public health protocols are being followed there.
"We had inspectors at Playdium this week that witnessed all public health protocols being adhered to including distancing, masking and cleaning protocols," Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang wrote in an e-mailed statement. "Sports are riskier activities because they do not allow for distancing and masking.
At the same time, Norwood says it was hard to see when the latest restrictions mean hockey games for his young sons are off.
"I think a better alternative would have been to go back to like it was, having no fans in the arena," Norwood said. "I feel there's a lot of things in place to mitigate risk."
Parents with children in sports aren't the only ones wondering.
Restaurants are too.
"Our staff have basically been asked to take a 10-hour pay cut over a two week period," said pub owner Brian Doherty.
Restaurants in the area must now close an hour earlier to dine-in customers and owners are frustrated.
"We have very strict protocols in place, and operators continue to point at huge crowds at some retail establishments, they just seem a little bit targeted," said Luc Erjavec, the VP Atlantic for Restaurants Canada.
Live theatre in the affected area is also in limbo.
Just a few days before the restrictions were put in place, Neptune Theatre announced it would start a small series of concerts and plays in March.
That's now postponed.
"The timing of the most recent restrictions is unfortunate. We are eager to open our doors and welcome audiences to the theatre," Neptune Theatre said in a statement. "Nonetheless, we believe that keeping our community safe is important."
Neptune marketing manager Emily Richards said patrons responded to the series of concerts and play readings with overwhelming support.
"It is the ongoing support from our patrons that helps us remain steadfast in our efforts to lift our curtains again," Richards wrote in an e-mail. "We are learning how to be adaptable in these unprecedented times and fortunately we were able postpone this series and will announce the new dates later this week."
The Halifax International Boat Show was also postponed.
Organizers say plans had been in the works for months, with a special pandemic plan put in place.
"The rules are the rules, and we'll follow them like everyone else, and this province and this government has done an incredible job," said Scott Sprague.
Strang, who wasn't available for an interview on Monday, said in a statement that restriction decisions are made by looking at activities that pose the most risk of transmission based on evidence around how the virus is spread.
"Nova Scotia has been able to keep COVID-19 numbers relatively low because our approach has been to act quickly when the epidemiology becomes concerning," Strang wrote. "Last week, our numbers began to climb with the source of many cases not being immediately traceable and close contact numbers very high. I was pleased to see numbers begin to decline through the weekend."