Nova Scotia shuts down border to 7 provinces as COVID-19 cases increase

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia to only allow essential workers to enter'
Nova Scotia to only allow essential workers to enter
WATCH: For the first time throughout this pandemic the province says it will be turning people away at the border if they do not have an essential reason to enter the province. Alicia Draus reports. Alicia Draus reports – Apr 20, 2021

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health announced new restrictions with the aim of cutting off travel-related cases to lower the spread of COVID-19. The announcement was included among other reminders and the need for testing.

As of Tuesday, Nova Scotia reported nine new cases of COVID-19 and said 68 active cases remain in the province.

Six cases are in the central zone. Five are close contacts of previously reported cases and the other case is under investigation.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia reports highest daily COVID-19 case count since early December

Two cases are in the western zone and are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

One case is in eastern zone and is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

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The people are self-isolating, as required, the province said.

Additional restrictions on travel 

At the COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, announced Nova Scotia is placing additional restrictions on travel to the province.

Starting on Thursday at 8 a.m., people from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador will not be allowed to enter the province unless their travel is essential or they are permanent residents of Nova Scotia.

What’s considered essential travel, according to the province, includes people who live in Nova Scotia but their primary employment is in another province, federally approved temporary foreign workers and post-secondary students coming to study in Nova Scotia.

Click to play video: '3 COVID-19 vaccine prototypes are being tested in Halifax'
3 COVID-19 vaccine prototypes are being tested in Halifax

“This is not the time for people to come to Nova Scotia for anything other than essential travel,” said Rankin. “Given that the pandemic is now being driven by variants that transmit more easily, this strong action is necessary to protect Nova Scotians.”

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Strang said the province wouldn’t turn away permanent residents of Nova Scotia if they travel, but they’re encouraged not to do so unless it is for essential reasons.

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“This is a critical time for us to cut off travel-related cases at the source. I am asking all Nova Scotians to put their plans aside and follow this direction,” Strang said.

Strang said non-essential travelers will be turned away or made to self-isolate at their expense, especially since there’s now small clusters in addition to travel cases.

There are early signs of community spread in Sackville Halifax, Dartmouth and Lawrence town areas, said Strang.

People in these communities should get tested regardless of symptoms, he said.

In the meantime, details are being finalized on further requirements for people who must isolate after essential travel and will be shared soon, the province stated in a press release.

Rotational workers must now fully isolate when they first arrive in Nova Scotia.

“Once they receive their first negative test result, they can switch to modified self-isolation,” the province said.

Specialized workers will only be allowed for critical infrastructure work.

Travel from outside of Atlantic Canada will not be allowed for funerals for a four-week period and will only be approved under exceptional circumstances for end-of-life visits.

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Due to these additional restrictions, Strang said this is not the time to be looking to purchase a property in Nova Scotia for the next four weeks.

“If you are moving to Nova Scotia and can demonstrate that you already have a new permanent address here as of April 21…that means you can come here,” he said.

Nova Scotia won’t be reallocating vaccines 

Premier Iain Rankin said the province won’t be reallocating vaccines to Ontario, but they are still looking at how we can help.

As of Monday, 21.9 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose.

Rankin encouraged anyone over  the age of 55 to book an appointment for AstraZeneca vaccine.

The province is receiving its lowest shipments since March so that could mean it will take awhile to get through the 60 and up age group, explained Rankin at the briefing.

However, he said the current shipment issues should not impact overall timeline of getting first doses to everyone by mid June.

Additional variants 

Unrelated to Tuesday’s new cases, the province said two cases of the B.1.1.7. variant of COVID-19, first discovered in the U.K., have been identified. These were previously reported cases and were related to travel.

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There have been 65 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant, 12 cases of the B.1.351 variant, first discovered in South Africa, and one case of the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil, identified in Nova Scotia.

Click to play video: 'N.S. reaches new vaccine milestone'
N.S. reaches new vaccine milestone

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,723 Nova Scotia tests on April 19.

As of April 19, 216,018 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 32,877 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia said it has completed 347,917 tests. There have been 742 positive COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

Two people are in hospital. There are 672 resolved cases.

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