N.S. closes schools after province confirms another record-setting COVID-19 case number

Click to play video: 'N.S. closing schools in HRM after record-setting COVID-19 cases'
N.S. closing schools in HRM after record-setting COVID-19 cases
WATCH: In response to the surge of COVID-19 cases, Nova Scotia has ordered the closure of all schools in the Halifax Regional Municipality and area. Elizabeth McSheffrey reports. – Apr 26, 2021

Nova Scotia announced Monday that all public schools in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and surrounding areas will close Tuesday, and that tighter restrictions will be added as a result of the rising COVID-19 numbers.

Nova Scotia reported 66 new cases of COVID-19 Monday — the highest case count recorded since the pandemic began.

The province said all public schools are set to move to at-home learning beginning Thursday.

Read more: COVID-19 — Nova Scotia reports a record 63 new cases, doubles large gatherings fine to $2,000

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The province said families will receive an update from their school centre or principal later Monday. More information about a return-to-school date will be released Friday, May 7.

The decision impacts all pre-primary children and grades primary to 12 public school students in Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE), as well as Conseil scolaire acadian provincial (CSAP) schools and schools in the Enfield, Elmsdale and Mount Uniacke areas with the Chignecto Central Regional Centre for Education (CCRCE).

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New restrictions added

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, announced that tighter restrictions are returning in all areas of the province.

The province said people should avoid travel outside their own community unless it is absolutely necessary such as for school, work, health care, child care, child custody, legal requirements and family visitation under the purview of the Department of Community Services.

Effective immediately, all school field trips and school-organized activities that bring students from different schools together, such as sports and music, have been stopped.

Restrictions announced last week for Halifax Regional Municipality, Hubbards, Milford, Lantz, Elmsdale, Enfield, Mount Uniacke, South Uniacke, Ecum Secum and Trafalgar remain in place.

In all other parts of the province, the following restrictions are effective 8 a.m. Tuesday and will remain in effect until at least May 20:

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  • The gathering limit is 10 total, both indoors and outdoors.
  • No social events, special events, festivals, arts/cultural events, sports events, wedding receptions or funeral visitation or receptions.
  • Faith gatherings are limited to 25 per cent of indoor capacity to a maximum of 100 or 150 outdoors, with physical distancing.
  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies hosted by a recognized business or organization can have 10 people, plus officiants.
  • Maximum of 25 people, with physical distancing and masks, for meetings or training hosted by a recognized business or organization.
  • Maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors for sports practices and training but no games, competitions or tournaments.
  • Maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors for arts and culture rehearsals but no in-person performances.
  • Virtual gatherings and performances can be held with a maximum of 25 people in one location, with physical distancing.
  • Restaurants and licensed establishments operate at 50 per cent capacity, provide service until 11 p.m. and close for seated service by midnight.
  • Casino Nova Scotia in Sydney, VLTs and First Nations gaming establishments operate at 50 per cent capacity, provide food and beverage service until 11 p.m. and close at midnight.
  • Licensed and unlicensed establishments and organized clubs can operate at 50 per cent to host activities such as darts, cards, pool and bowling following their sector plans and guidelines for these activities.
  • Retail businesses and malls can operate at 50 per cent capacity and must follow other public health measures.
  • Personal services such as hair salons, barbershops and spas can operate but cannot provide any services that require the client to remove their mask.
  • Indoor fitness facilities like gyms and yoga studios and sport and recreation facilities like pools, arenas, tennis courts and large multipurpose recreation facilities can operate at 50 per cent capacity.
  • Outdoor fitness and recreation businesses and organized clubs can operate with 25 people and physical distancing.
  • Maximum 50 people for businesses and organizations offering a wide variety of indoor recreation activities, such as indoor play areas, arcades, climbing facilities, dance classes and music lessons
  • Museums and libraries can operate at 50 per cent capacity.
  • In private indoor workplaces such as offices or warehouses, masks are mandatory in all common areas, places where there is interaction with the public, areas with poor ventilation and areas where distance cannot be maintained.
  • Visitors, volunteers and designated care providers are allowed at long-term care facilities.
  • Visitors are allowed at homes licensed by the Department of Community Services under the Homes for Special Care Act and residents can have community access.
  • All adult day programs for persons with disabilities funded by the Department of Community Services are open.
  • All adult day programs for seniors remain closed provincewide.

People who do not follow the gathering limit can be fined. The fine is now $2,000 for each person at an illegal gathering.

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66 new cases

For the first time in Nova Scotia, Strang said somebody in their 20s is in intensive care, after 66 new cases of COVID-19 were announced Monday.

“I hear many people say they’re not worried about having COVID, they believe they are young and healthy, but COVID-19 can have devastating effects on anyone,” Strang said.

He said this third wave is seeing an increased number of young people with severe illness and hospitalization in ICUs.

Eight of the new cases were identified Sunday, April 25, at the following schools:

  • Chebucto Heights Elementary, Halifax
  • Joseph Howe Elementary, Halifax
  • Oxford School, Halifax
  • Bedford South School, Bedford
  • Atlantic View Elementary, Lawrencetown
  • Brookhouse Elementary, Dartmouth
  • Cole Harbour District High, Dartmouth
  • Nelson Whynder Elementary, North Preston

Three cases are in Eastern Zone, one of which was identified Sunday, April 25, at Jubilee Elementary in Sydney Mines.

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Two cases are in Western Zone and one case is in Northern Zone.

Rankin said at the COVID-19 briefing Monday that none of the province’s students so far have tested positive.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 testing surging in Halifax amid spike in cases'
COVID-19 testing surging in Halifax amid spike in cases

“I encourage everyone to get tested, including students,” said Rankin. “We are monitoring the situation and we will act swiftly if required.”

As of Monday, Nova Scotia has 323 active cases of COVID-19. Five people are in hospital, two of whom are in ICU.

People 55 to 59 eligible for vaccination

Starting Monday, the province said people 55 and older can book appointments for the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at clinics across the province.

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All community clinics and many participating pharmacies have available appointments for this age group.

AstraZeneca vaccine appointments remain open for people who are 55 to 64 years old.

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 11,335 Nova Scotia tests on April 25.

As of April 25, 276,075 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 34,816 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia said it has completed 391,079 tests. There have been 1,030 positive COVID-19 cases and two deaths.

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