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Expired license? Parking ticket? N.S. governments champion online services in response to COVID-19

The Halifax Regional Municipality is directing the public to its online services during the COVID-19 crisis, so its workers can avoid face-to-face contact.
The Halifax Regional Municipality is directing the public to its online services during the COVID-19 crisis, so its workers can avoid face-to-face contact. Alexander Quon/Global News

Governments in Nova Scotia are asking the public to make full use of their online services as closures and isolation measures intensify during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Halifax Regional Municipality barred public access all of its customer service centres, planning and development counters in order to curb the risk of the infection spreading through close personal contact.

The HRM is now asking residents to visit its website to pay property taxes and tickets and report issues to 311.

Staff are also working on a new online service that will allow it to issue new construction permits remotely, and should be up and running sometime next week.

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“Staff at the centres will continue to work, focusing on administrative support that does not involve face-to-face customer service,” reads a Wednesday morning news statement.

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“The municipality is committed to taking important steps in reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

READ MORE: Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre closed until further notice

On Tuesday, the province closed some of its own customer service desks, including the Access Nova Scotia and Motor Vehicle Registry offices. Those offices, however, are expected to re-open on March 25.

“Government is also extending the date for driver licences and vehicle registrations expiring in March, April and May to Aug. 31,” says a joint statement from the departments of transportation and internal services.

“All law enforcement agencies have been notified of the extensions.”

The public is now being encouraged to use the province’s online services platform as much as possible.

READ MORE: NS Power will keep the lights on during COVID-19, even if bills go unpaid

The closures come after the number of presumptive novel coronavirus cases rose in Nova Scotia from five to seven on Tuesday.

The government has now restricted public gatherings to 50 people, and ordered bars and dining rooms to be shutdown.