Nova Scotia is entering a two-week province-wide shutdown as the premier warns COVID-19 is “spreading faster than ever in the province.”
As of Wednesday at 8 a.m., all schools and non-essential indoor services will be closed in the province for the next two weeks.
As well, gatherings indoors and outdoors will be limited to household bubbles.
The province recorded 96 new cases on Tuesday.
In a news briefing, Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said there is substantial risk of spread in HRM and there are concerning signs in Cape Breton.
“COVID loves the indoors so we need to shut down activity that takes place inside,” said Rankin.
The circuit-breaker shutdown means all schools, restaurants, gyms, malls, libraries, museums and non-essential retail will close. Those that can have curbside pickup or take-out are allowed.
Personal care services, such as spas and salons, must also close.
There are to be no social events, festivals, in-person faith gatherings, wedding or funeral receptions, business meetings, sports or arts practices or performances.
Certain retail outlets can open at 25 per cent capacity, including those that sell food, medicine, personal hygiene products, baby products and pet supplies. Gas stations and NSLC outlets will also stay open with 25 per cent capacity.
Daycares will remain open “with the focus on providing service to those providing essential services or have no other child-care option.” Mandatory masking is also in place now for staff, visitors and children over the age of two in indoor settings.
Outdoor activities, such as golf courses and outdoor tennis courts can open, so long as people stay within their municipalities to use them. Outdoor fitness and recreation businesses, or organized clubs, can continue to operate with a maximum of five people and physical distancing.
“We are in a critical race between vaccine rollout and the variant and right now the variant is winning,” said Rankin.
Strang says the situation is changing quickly and that the province must act quickly to get ahead of the virus.
“We are acting more aggressively today,” he said.
“We cannot be chasing this virus. We have to be ahead of it to protect Nova Scotians, our health-care system and our vaccine rollout.”
Gathering limits, long-term care visitor restrictions
As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nova Scotians can only gather indoors or outdoors with their household bubbles, which are the people they live with. Households that have two or fewer people can socialize with one or two others, but they must remain with the same group of people during the two-week shutdown.
There is to be no “unnecessary travel” between communities — or municipalities.
Visitors and volunteers will not be allowed inside long-term care facilities, except for designated care providers.
Adult day programs for seniors and persons with disabilities will be closed.
As previously mentioned, indoor child-care settings will require staff, visitors and children over the age of two to wear masks.
There is also mandatory masking outdoors “where physical distancing cannot be maintained,” such as playgrounds and parks.
Masks are mandatory in private indoor workplaces, such as offices and warehouses, in all common areas and places where there is interaction with the public. That rule also applies to areas with poor ventilation and areas where distance cannot be maintained.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier in the day the military will deploy 60 service members to assist at COVID-19 testing centres in Nova Scotia. Trudeau said the province requested the aid because of the rapid rise in cases, particularly in the Halifax area.
There are 90 cases in the Central Zone today, one in the Northern Zone and two in the Western Zone.
Three cases are in the Eastern Zone, one of which was identified Monday at Sydney Academy in Sydney.
According to the province, one of the cases in the central zone is a staff member at Clarmar Residential Care Facility, a residential care home in Dartmouth.
Northwood, a Nova Scotia care home, also confirmed one presumptive case of COVID-19 in a staff member who works at their Halifax campus.
“This individual contracted COVID-19 in the community. The staff person is now in isolation,” Northwood said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia Health confirmed to Global News they have four known positive cases, and one resolved case — all in Central Zone — among employes.
“There are less than 10 close contacts self-isolating as a result of workplace exposures due to these cases,” a spokesperson wrote.
Across the organization, 168 employees are either symptomatic and waiting for their COVID-19 test results or are asymptomatic and isolating because they were at a potential exposure location identified by Public Health.
As well, Nova Scotia reported three new schools with COVID-19 cases connected to them on Monday evening: Sydney Academy in Sydney, Bedford and Forsyth Education Centres (Bedford campus) and Halifax West High.
There are 419 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Eleven people are in hospital, including three in ICU.
Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 9,962 Nova Scotia tests on Tuesday.
As of April 26, 283,591 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 35,002 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.
Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia said it has completed 401,042 tests. There have been 1,126 positive COVID-19 cases and two deaths.
There are 705 resolved cases.
-With files from the Canadian PressView link »