The Nova Scotia government has announced that many businesses that were forced to close under the COVID-19 public health orders will be permitted to reopen on June 5.
Speaking at an afternoon press briefing, Premier Stephen McNeil said the following will be permitted to reopen under public health restrictions:
- Dine-in/takeout restaurants and delivery
- Bars/wineries/tap rooms
- Barber shops/hair salons/spas/nail salons/tattoo parlors
- Gyms/yoga studios
Premier McNeil said health providers that can also reopen include:
- Massage therapists
McNeil says he believes the province has found a balance between public safety and restarting the economy.
“We are still moving slowly, but this is a good first step,” he said.
McNeil says the province has considered feedback gathered through consultations with businesses and associations, adding that they must follow the new public health protocols put in place.
“I have every confidence that you can do this, and I have confidence that Nova Scotians will support you,” he said.
The premier said the restart will be monitored “very closely” from a public health point of view.
The date for daycare reopenings has been pushed back to June 15. McNeil said the province will share the official reopening date once the plan is fully approved.
“Our primary focus, though, will always be on the safety of our children,” he said.
“We are not going to rush it.”
Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said businesses must reopen under strict public health protocols, which include:
- Keeping a distance of two metres/six feet wherever possible
- Using non-medical masks when it’s difficult to maintain a two-metre distance
- Increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces
- Frequent handwashing
- Limiting non-essential travel
- Staying home if feeling unwell
Strang noted that every business is different, but said there are many ways to meet these protocols.
“The sectors I have met with have all had lots of really good questions and their own observations, and we’ve had very productive discussions about how they can develop and implement reopening plans that make sense,” Strang said.
Strang said existing public health directives around physical distancing and gathering limits remain in place.
People must keep two metres apart and not gather in groups of more than five, he said.
Grant for small businesses
The premier also announced a small business reopening support grant of $25 million, which will provide eligible small businesses, not-for-profit charities and social enterprises with a grant of up to $5,000.
“Many of you have to operate under entirely new conditions and maybe even change your business model,” McNeil said, “so along with the grant, we are offering a voucher worth $1,500 to access consulting services to offer (businesses) advice.”
McNeil said the program is for those ordered to close under the public health order, along with small independent retailers, independent gas retailers and dental clinics.
If you receive the Small Business Impact Grant the province announced in April, McNeil said you do not need to apply as businesses will be contacted directly.
For everyone else, applications will be online on Monday.
$230M infrastructure grant
The province is also announcing an infrastructure investment of $230 million, which the premier says will go towards more than 200 shovel-ready projects.
Those projects include highways, expansion of the gravel road program, replacement of bridges, green energy projects, school repairs, waterfronts, small option homes and provincial museum upgrades.
“As the private sector gets ready to open, we understand as a government we also have a role to play in getting people back to work,” he said.
“These projects will support small and medium-sized construction companies across our province who will hire Nova Scotians to do that work.”
One new case in Nova Scotia
The province announced one new confirmed case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1,053.
According to the province, the QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 533 Nova Scotia tests on Tuesday.
There is one licensed long-term care home in Nova Scotia with active cases of COVID-19. Northwood in Halifax currently has 12 residents and four staff members with active cases.
To date, Nova Scotia has 39,441 negative test results, 1,053 positive coronavirus test results and 59 deaths.
A total of 975 individuals have now recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.
This is a breaking news story. Updates to follow.