Nova Scotia reports 37 new cases of COVID-19, shuts down bars, gyms

Click to play video: 'Voluntary Small Business Closures in Halifax'
Voluntary Small Business Closures in Halifax
Voluntary Small Business Closures in Halifax – Nov 24, 2020

Nova Scotia health officials reported 37 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday in the largest single-day increase since April 23.

There are currently 87 active cases in the province.

“If that isn’t enough of a concern, I don’t know what is,” said Premier Stephen McNeil in a provincial update on Tuesday.

Majority of the new cases are in the Halifax area and are individuals aged 18-35.

Public Health announced new COVID-19 measures on Tuesday and asked Nova Scotians to limit travel to the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Tight measures coming to Nova Scotians

All restaurants and bars are closing to in-person dining as of Wednesday, but takeout and delivery can continue, McNeil said.

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The public gathering limit is now five. Fitness centres, libraries, museums, casinos and similar facilities will be closed.

Co-owner of Balance Fitness, a gym in Dartmouth, said they’re one of the many gyms that will be closing in response to the new measures announced at the briefing.

“We were completely blindsided and we were totally unprepared in the first shutdown. So now we just we just had to kind of prepare ourselves. But it was definitely something that we knew was was going to happen,” said Erika French.

Co-owners of Balance Fitness, Jade Martin (Left) and Erika French (Right).

French said this second shutdown isn’t going to impact them as significantly as the first time because they’ve already took their personal training and boot camps virtually.

She and her co-owner have also launched a second businesses, which is totally virtual, called Jade and Erika- The Honest Unicorns. 

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“Because mental health and fitness go hand in hand, especially during this time. So we wanted to make sure that that was still available,” French said.

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But despite the new virtual initiatives that they’ve put in place, French said this shutdown will probably hurt them even more “because people are more fearful of going back to a gym even from the first wave, let alone the second wave, so it’s definitely going to impact us greatly.”

“We can just be hopeful and see what happens over the next two weeks. And if that extends longer, then we’ll just have to take things virtually to our members,” she added.

Balance Fitness will be closing at 9 p.m. on Tuesday

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Personal services like hairstylists and estheticians will stay open, but any procedures that require clients to remove masks are no longer allowed.

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Health official say residents should expect stronger enforcement for illegal gatherings, including a $1,000 fine for each person at a party. Previously, Halifax police and RCMP have said they only charge the host.

Chief of health Dr. Robert Strang said an increase in cases in one specific demographic where social activities are important, was expected.

Strang said 72 per cent of cases reported in November are in the 18-35 demographic.

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New measures announced on Tuesday will have an impact, but high numbers will continue for the next week to 10 days, Strang said in the briefing.

To limit exposure, Strang says travel from the HRM to other parts of the province and other way around will be limited.

Sports teams inside the HRM cannot travel for a game, and teams cannot come into Halifax.

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Additionally, stores at malls will have to limit the number of customers to 25 per cent of legal capacity and maintain strict distance between customers.

Strang advises residents to go shopping for essential reasons only.

“If you’re thinking you’re coming to Halifax this weekend for Black Friday, please think again,” Strang said.

“HRM for the next two weeks is not a shopping destination for the rest of the province.”

Effective Thursday, all Nova Scotia long-term care facilities will be closed to visitors except volunteers and designated caregivers, Strang said.

He also said masks will now be mandatory in common spaces in apartment buildings.

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Strang encourages Nova Scotians to significantly limit travel in and out of the greater Halifax area, and to limit out-of-province travel to essential reasons only.

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Vast majority of positive cases have been asymptomatic or have had mild symptoms, Strang said.

“If people are going about their daily lives (they are) exposing lots of other people.”

Strang reminded the province is opening up a stream of testing for bar staff and late-night patrons. He said Tuesday afternoon that 4,000 people have already signed up for testing.

The update comes one day after governments of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador announced backing out of the Atlantic bubble due to rising cases in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.


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