Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and announced that its border with New Brunswick is opening, and remaining restrictions in parts of Halifax Regional Municipality and surrounding communities will be lifted.
According to the province, both changes are effective at 8 a.m. Saturday.
“We look forward to reopening the entire Atlantic bubble but in the meantime, with case numbers declining, we are comfortable opening the New Brunswick border,” Premier Iain Rankin said on Friday. “We know many businesses and families need to cross this border frequently and we don’t want to delay their return to normal travel routines.”
Just like residents of Prince Edward Island, Rankin said at a COVID-19 briefing Friday that residents of New Brunswick will no longer have to self-isolate upon arrival in Nova Scotia, however Nova Scotians will still have to quarantine going into New Brunswick.
“Along with opening the New Brunswick border, we’re now in a position to lift the additional restrictions in areas of Halifax Regional Municipality and surrounding communities,” said Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical health officer.
“The virus is still here, though, and everyone needs to remain vigilant if we want to avoid imposing restrictions again. Even as people start getting vaccinated, we need to continue following all the public health measures until the majority of Nova Scotians have immunity.”
According to Strang there are a few changes to the provincewide restrictions:
- The general gathering limit remains at 10 indoors and outdoors
- Household gatherings will be increased from maximum 10 to households plus up to 10 others
- Immediate family members who live in the same household can be together outdoors even if that is more than 10 people
- Restaurants and licensed establishments can stop service by 11 p.m. and close by midnight
- Fitness facilities continue to operate at 75 per cent capacity but can return to two metres between people for all activities
With restrictions lifted, the province said the following is also allowed provincewide:
- Events hosted by a recognized business or organization can have 150 outdoors or 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 100 indoors
- Events include social events, special events, sport events, arts and culture events, festivals, faith gatherings, weddings with receptions, and funerals with receptions and visitation
- Meetings and training hosted by recognized businesses and organizations can have 150 outdoors or 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 100 indoors and organized clubs can break into cohorts of 15 following the day-camp guidelines
- Physical distancing is required for meetings and training except when emergency responders need to be closer than two metres for training
- Licensed establishments, unlicensed establishments such as community centres and charities, and organized clubs can host activities such as darts, cards, pool, bowling, bingo or karaoke following guidelines for these activities
- Visitors are allowed in long-term care facilities
- Visitors are allowed in adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services and residents can resume full community access
- Retail businesses and malls operate at 75 per cent capacity and follow other public health measures
- Sports practices and training and arts and culture rehearsals and performances can have 60 people without physical distancing
- Sports games, competitions and tournaments are allowed within the team’s regular competitive schedule
- Spectators are allowed if the business or organization hosting the event has a gathering plan that follows event guidelines
The province said that people who do not follow the gathering limit can be fined. The fine is $1,000 for each person at an illegal gathering.
The province said that the new three cases are in the central zone and are all close contacts of previously reported cases.
As of Friday, 17 active cases remain in the province.
As of March 18, 58,036 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 20,050 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.
Rankin said the province has had a record high of vaccination number on Wednesday after 1,200 vaccines were delivered in Amherst.
The province said there were 998 tests administered between March 12 and 17 at the rapid-testing pop-up sites in Upper Tantallon, Elmsdale and Halifax.
Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia said has completed 275,460 tests. There have been 591 positive COVID-19 cases and one death.
No one is in hospital. There are 573 resolved cases.
COVID-19 vaccine groups expanded
The province announced that anyone 80 and older and born between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, can start to book their COVID-19 vaccine as of 7 a.m. on Monday, March 22.
In addition to the community clinic appointments being made available next week, the province said 2,600 appointments will also open for booking at 15 more pharmacies on Monday. These pharmacies will be for anyone who is 80 and older and will offer the Moderna vaccine.
All Nova Scotians are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible.
The province said its goal continues to be to immunize as many Nova Scotians as quickly as possible, based on age, to reach a high rate of population immunity.
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