Nova Scotia is further loosening restrictions and entering Phase 4 of its reopening plan on Wednesday, as the province reaches its target of having 75 per cent of its entire population with at least one dose of a vaccine.
New daily cases have been typically in the single digits.
On Monday, the province reported one new case of COVID-19, located in the Eastern Zone. The case involves a close contact of a previously-reported case.
During a COVID-19 briefing, Premier Iain Rankin and chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, did note the sources of a couple of cases are under investigation.
“I’m very pleased that cases are remaining low and we are not seeing any signs of community transmission,” said Strang.
The province currently has 37 active cases. Since Sunday, one more person has been admitted to hospital, bringing the total to three. Two of those patients are in the ICU.
Public Health has issued a list of potential exposure locations in Central Zone. A list is at the bottom of this story.
‘Please do not wait’
Strang repeatedly said during the briefing that it is imperative Nova Scotians get their second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
He said they have heard of people holding out on re-booking an earlier appointment, because they are waiting for the Pfizer vaccine.
The province is anticipating a shipment of Pfizer later this month, but Strang said there is ample Moderna vaccine available.
“To anyone who is waiting for Pfizer, please do not wait. You get the same end result: strong immunity against COVID-19 and its variants,” he said.
“The Delta variant has a foothold in other provinces and countries, and one dose of vaccine is not enough to protect yourself from this variant.”
He added that the Pfizer will be needed for children aged 12 to 17, since Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for that age group.
“There is more than enough vaccines, more than enough available appointments. Now it’s up to Nova Scotians. We need everyone who can to get their first and second dose as soon as possible.”
To further ramp up vaccination rates, the province will be opening up its community clinics in Dartmouth and Bayer’s Lake to walk-ins this week.
Set to enter Phase 4
Nova Scotia is targeted to enter Phase 4 of its reopening plan on Wednesday.
The changes includes a slight relaxing of masking rules. Children aged 12 and under will no need a mask in childcare and camps. As well, masks will not be necessary in outdoor situations, such as a farmers’ market or a playground, where social distancing is not possible.
When asked if Nova Scotia was looking to other provinces, such as P.E.I., that have removed masking requirements, Rankin said Nova Scotia is taking the “incremental approach” and that “we’re sticking with our plan right now” while also keeping an eye on other jurisdictions.
Under the phase, restaurants can resume their normal hours of operation, retail stores can operate at 100 per cent capacity, and gyms can return to full capacity. In all these cases, masking and social distancing rules apply.
Festivals and faith gatherings can have half of a venue’s capacity up to 150 people indoors and up to 250 people outdoors when hosted by a business or organization. Social distancing and masking.
Informal wedding ceremonies and funerals can have 25 people plus the person conducting the ceremony indoors and up to 50 people plus the person conducting the ceremony outdoors without social distancing. Wedding ceremonies and funerals hosted by a business or organization can have half of a venue’s capacity up to 150 people indoors and 250 people outdoors — but with social distancing.
Meanwhile, social gatherings indoors can have 25 people without social distancing and masks, while outdoor gatherings can have up to 50 people without social distancing and masks.
As well, organized sports and performing arts can have 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors without social distancing for rehearsals, performances, practices and games.
Spectators are allowed for sports and arts, if the event is hosted by a business or organization that has an Event Plan. The spectators would count in the gathering limits.
The fifth and final phase of the reopening plan has a target of September, according to the province’s website, and would be contingent on 75 per cent of the population being fully vaccinated.
In that case, the province would ease measures and “start to move into living during COVID-19.”
Strang said while it’s possible to reach that target earlier, it’s important to remember that moving into that phase requires low hospitalizations and a good epidemiology in the province.
Public Health has issued a list of low-risk and medium-risk potential exposure locations in Central Zone.
For the following locations, if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate while you wait for your test result.
- Blush Hair Studio (751 Herring Cove Road, Halifax) on July 8 between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
- Costco (230 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax) on July 9 between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Self-isolation rules for people who were present at moderate risk exposures are dependent on vaccination status. The Nova Scotia Health Authority has a chart that outlines the protocol. Those who are unvaccinated will need to self-isolate until they have a negative test result. They will also need to be re-tested twice.
- Swiss Chalet (358 Lacewood Dr., Halifax) on July 9 between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.