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Province relaxes COVID-19 restrictions to allow Nova Scotians to get outdoors

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WATCH: Nova Scotia relaxes COVID-19 restrictions

Nova Scotia has relaxed some of the restrictions it put in place to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Effective immediately, provincial and municipal parks can reopen, although playground equipment will continue to be off-limits.

Beaches in the province will remain closed.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia opens parks, trails, and community gardens starting Friday

Premier Stephen McNeil said on Friday that the decision is meant to support Nova Scotians’ physical and mental health in the wake of last month’s tragedies.

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The province says rules around physical distancing and limits on social gatherings of more than five people will remain in place.

“That’s why we are easing some restrictions, while still keeping the majority of our public health directives in place to continue fighting the virus,” McNeil said in a press release.

“But I need to be clear: if we see an increase in positive cases or people not continuing to adhere to all the public health measures, the restrictions will return.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia health officials warning of possible COVID-19 exposure at Halifax Canadian Tire, NSLC

Other restrictions that are being lifted as of Friday include trails being reopened, the province allowing the use of community gardens and the opening of the sportfishing season, although fishing derbies are not allowed.

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Nova Scotians will be allowed to attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Driving ranges are now able to open, including those at golf clubs, although the golf course must remain closed.

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Nova Scotians will be able to use their cottages, although it is restricted to one household unit at time.

McNeil says that travel must be directly to the cottage and back.

He added that frequent travel back and forth is not recommended.

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Nova Scotia’s provincial and private campgrounds will remain closed but can perform necessary maintenance and preparations for opening. An exception is in place for recreational vehicles parked year-round at private campgrounds, which can be used but must follow the same rules as cottages.

The province will also allow drive-in religious services as long as people stay in their cars and are parked two metres apart.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the relaxation of the public health measures is only the first step in Nova Scotia’s recovery plan.

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Trails, parks impacted by state of emergency restrictions in Nova Scotia

He stressed that it’s important not to rush into this and undo the province’s hard work.

The relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions came shortly after Nova Scotia reported a single new COVID-19-related death on Friday.

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The death occurred at Northwood Manor in Halifax, which as a result of an outbreak at the facility has recorded the majority of Nova Scotia’s coronavirus-related deaths.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: 1 new death related to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, 12 new cases' Coronavirus outbreak: 1 new death related to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, 12 new cases
Coronavirus outbreak: 1 new death related to COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, 12 new cases

“The thoughts and best wishes of all Nova Scotians are with everyone at Northwood. To the family and loved ones of this individual, please accept our deepest condolences,” said Premier Stephen McNeil, in a press release.

“Many people, representing many organizations, are working hard to help Northwood address this virus. This support will continue as long as it is needed.”

The new death, which is captured in data collected on Thursday, April 30, moves the total number of deaths in the province to 29.

On Friday, the province also announced it will once again extend the state of emergency it declared in response to the ongoing pandemic.

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The renewed state of emergency will go into effect at noon on Sunday and last until May 17 unless the government terminates or extends it.

Nova Scotia first declared a state of emergency on March 22.

 

The province detected a dozen additional cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 959.

Health officials say 10 people remain in hospital, three of which remain in intensive care.

Nova Scotia believes 592 people have now recovered from the disease and their cases are considered resolved.

There remain 10 long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors’ facilities in Nova Scotia with cases of COVID-19.

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Between the 10 facilities, 237 residents and 105 staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

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Halifax mobile outreach van providing COVID-19 tests

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.