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Bursting the bubble: Gatherings of up to 50 now allowed in Nova Scotia

Click to play video 'Nine days without new cases in Nova Scotia, two active cases remain' Nine days without new cases in Nova Scotia, two active cases remain
WATCH: Premier Stephen McNeil announces easing COVID-19 regulations as province goes nine days without new cases reported. Alicia Draus has more.

The Nova Scotia government has announced changes to gathering limits in the province.

Nova Scotians can now gather in groups of up to 10 without physical distancing. They can also gather in groups of 50 with physical distancing.

“Effective today, household bubbles are down and gathering limits are up,” Premier Stephen McNeil said in a statement Thursday.

“We know a lot of you have been waiting for months to come in close contact with those you love. We are happy to tell you you can finally get that long-awaited hug from a grandparent a child or a close friend. ”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia restaurants, gyms, spas permitted to reopen June 5

For the groups of 10, the province says people in the group are not required to be exclusive but they are “strongly encouraged to maintain a consistent group.”

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Groups of up to 50 must physical distance of two metres or six feet.

The larger gathering limit of 50 applies to social events, faith gatherings, sports and physical activity, weddings and funerals, and arts and culture events like theatre performances, dance recitals, festivals and concerts.

The province says businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing can have no more than 10 people on their premises at a time.

“We’re providing a new option for close social interaction because it’s important for our well-being, but everybody needs to make decisions that take into consideration the risks, their own circumstances, and how they help keep everyone safe,” said Dr. Robert Strang in a statement.

“It’s important that we all continue physical distancing as much as possible, good hand hygiene, cough etiquette, staying home if you’re sick and making informed decisions about the groups and activities we choose to join.”

Click to play video 'Bars, restaurants officially allowed to reopen in Nova Scotia' Bars, restaurants officially allowed to reopen in Nova Scotia
Bars, restaurants officially allowed to reopen in Nova Scotia

Also effective Thursday, playgrounds can start reopening. Municipalities and other owners of playgrounds will need time to prepare them for reopening so Nova Scotians should not expect them to be open immediately.

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Anyone entering Nova Scotia is still required to self-isolate for 14 days and the Atlantic provinces are still ironing out details to create an Atlantic bubble.

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Despite being non-committal to any date for the regional bubble, Premier McNeil now says he expects to reopen the province to the rest of Canada this summer.

“I am wanting to open up to rest of Canada second and third week of July in that general area,” McNeil said during Thursday’s cabinet meeting. “We have to learn to live with COVID and figure out how to move about inside this country.”

McNeil says all public health protocols will still be in place, including physical distancing, but that 14-day self isolation requirement would be lifted.

“We have to be open to this because tourism is one of the most important industries, it employs tens of thousands of Nova Scotians and we need people to get back to work so they can feed their families and keep our communities alive,” he said.

0 new cases Thursday

For the ninth day in a row, Nova Scotia is reporting no new cases of COVID-19. The last new case was reported on June 9.

There are currently two active cases in the province, 1,061 total cases and 997 resolved.

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READ MORE: Nova Scotia reports no new coronavirus cases Thursday

Sixty-two Nova Scotians have died from illnesses connected to the virus.

There are currently two patients in hospital, one of which in an intensive care unit.

With files from Alicia Draus. 

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

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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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