'Time to take some tough measures': New restrictions announced as N.S. sees 37 new COVID-19 cases
HALIFAX -- As Nova Scotia reports 37 new cases of COVID-19 – the greatest number of cases the province has seen since April – Premier Stephen McNeil says it’s “time to take some tough measures” to limit the spread.
“Thirty-seven cases in one day. If that isn’t enough of a concern, I don’t know what is. If you haven’t woken up to the second wave, this is your wakeup call,” said McNeil before announcing new restrictions during a news conference in Halifax on Tuesday.
“There is no doubt that COVID is in our communities and it is trying to take a grip on the greater Halifax area. We need to stop the spread now.”
The new restrictions affect restaurants, retail stores, organized sports, and fitness facilities, among others.
As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the following measures will apply for two weeks in the western and central Halifax area, which the province defines as HRM from Hubbards to, and including, Porters Lake and communities up to Elmsdale and Mount Uniacke in Hants County:
- The gathering limit in public is five, or up to the number of members of an immediate family in a household.
- Face masks must be worn in common areas of multi-unit residential buildings, such as apartment buildings and condos.
- Restaurants and licensed establishments are closed for in-person dining. They may still provide takeout and delivery.
- Retail stores must restrict shoppers and staff to 25 per cent or less of allowable capacity.
- Wineries, breweries and distilleries cannot hold tastings or in-person dining and must follow retail rules in their stores. Delivery and curbside pickup are allowed.
- Organized sports, recreational, athletic, arts and cultural activities and faith-based activities are paused.
- Profit and non-profit fitness and recreational facilities are closed.
- Libraries and museums are closed. This includes the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
- The casino and First Nations gaming establishments are closed.
- Stronger enforcement of illegal gatherings. Each person who attends an illegal gathering could be fined $1,000.
The restrictions will continue for two weeks until midnight Dec. 9, but they could be extended.
Staff, volunteers and designated caregivers at long-term care facilities in HRM will undergo voluntary, bi-weekly testing, starting Friday.
Schools, after-school programs and childcare will remain open. Certain personal service businesses, such as hairstylists, estheticians and nail salons, in western and central HRM can continue, except for procedures that cannot be done while a patron is wearing a mask.
Nova Scotians are also being urged to avoid non-essential travel in and out of the western and central Halifax Regional Municipality and to avoid travelling to other Atlantic provinces for non-essential reasons.
NEW RESTRICTIONS ACROSS NOVA SCOTIA
As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the following new restrictions apply across Nova Scotia, in all zones:
- No visitors, except for volunteers and designated caregivers, will be allowed in long-term care facilities, adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services.
- Sports teams are restricted to local or regional play only.
- No extracurricular activities between schools.
"Everything we're announcing today will have an impact, but because of the incubation period of the virus, we are going to see these high numbers continue for the next week to 10 days," explained Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang. "As we start to see the impact of our tough measures, it will take at least a week, if not 10 days, to really see an impact."
Strang said he expects to see high case numbers over the next few days and the province is prepared to see cases confirmed in hospitals or long-term care facilities.
"I don't want to scare people, but I want people to have a realistic picture of what we're facing ... if we've forgotten how serious COVID-19 is, this is a reminder. And we all need to work together to get ourselves out of this and we all need to start today, now."
BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING
One of the busiest shopping days of the year is just days away, but Strang is urging people to focus on essential shopping only, or to shop online. He noted that crowded stores are of particular concern, which is why retail stores in the Halifax area must restrict shoppers and staff.
"We need to decrease the crowds in stores. If you are thinking you're coming to Halifax this weekend for Black Friday, please think again," said Strang. "HRM, for the next two weeks at least, is not a shopping destination for the rest of the province."
Only one person from a household should shop for essential items. When it comes to non-essential holiday shopping, Strang says it's safest to purchase items online or arrange for curbside pickup. He is also urging Nova Scotians to support their local businesses at this time.
37 NEW COVID-19 CASES; CASE CONFIRMED IN SCHOOL
Nova Scotia reported 37 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday -- the highest single-day increase since April 23, when the province reported a record 55 cases.
There are now 87 active cases in the province. One previously reported case is now considered resolved.
Of the new cases, 35 are located in the province's Central Zone, which includes the Halifax Regional Municipality.
There is also one case identified in the Western Zone, involving a student at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning N.S. The student is self-isolating and the case is under investigation.
The school will be closed for the rest of the week while health officials conduct contact tracing and sanitize the building.
There was also one case identified in the Northern Zone, though that case is connected to Halifax.
McNeil said most of the new cases involve people between the ages of 18 and 35.
On Monday, Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,561 Nova Scotia tests.
Nova Scotia has seen a total of 130,113 negative and 1,227 positive COVID-19 tests. Of the 1,227 positive cases, 1,075 are considered resolved, and 65 people have died, leaving 87 active cases.
As of Tuesday, 118 new cases had been identified in the province this month, marking the highest total of new cases in a month since April, when 853 new cases were reported.
There is no one in hospital due to COVID-19.
The province's confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Fifty-five per cent of cases are male and 45 per cent are female.
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: 59 cases
- Central Zone: 1,035 cases
- Northern Zone: 78 cases
- Eastern Zone: 55 cases
HALIFAX BAR AND RESTAURANT PATRONS URGED TO GET TESTED
Nova Scotia Health is asking anyone who works in a licensed establishment or went to a bar or restaurant in the Halifax Regional Municipality after 10 p.m. in the last two weeks to book a COVID-19 test, even if they don’t have symptoms.
The announcement is part of what the government is calling a "broad asymptomatic testing strategy for people who go to or work in late-night bars and restaurants."
People who work in a licensed establishment or have been to a bar or restaurant in urban and suburban HRM after 10 p.m. since Nov. 10 are asked to visit the COVID self-assessment page to schedule a COVID-19 test.
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
SELF-ISOLATION AND MANDATORY MASKS
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.
Anyone who travels to Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic region for non-essential reasons is required to self-isolate for 14 days and must fill out a self-declaration form before coming to the province. Travellers must self-isolate alone, away from others. If they cannot self-isolate alone, their entire household must also self-isolate for 14 days.
Residents of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are not required to self-isolate when travelling to Nova Scotia, but they must be prepared to provide proof of their place of residency at provincial borders.
Visitors from outside the Atlantic region who have already self-isolated in another Atlantic province for 14 days may travel to Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate again.
It is mandatory to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces in Nova Scotia.