Nova Scotia is reporting 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
The majority of the new cases — 10 — are in the Central Zone. Eight of those are considered close contacts of previously-reported cases, one is related to travel and one is under investigation.
Five of the cases are in Northern Zone, all of which are close contacts.
One case is in Western Zone and is a close contact of a previous case.
And one case is in Eastern Zone and is related to travel.
This brings the province’s active case count to 74. Of those, one person is in hospital.
During a news briefing on Wednesday, Premier Tim Houston and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, confirmed the province will be entering Phase 5 of the reopening plan on Sept. 15. On that date, most COVID-19 restrictions, including masking mandates, will be lifted.
“We continue to see daily cases, but most are travel related or they’re close contacts and again are also mostly in people who are unvaccinated,” said Strang during the briefing.
“We do have a few cases that are under investigation, but there is no evidence of ongoing community spread here in Nova Scotia.”
But he also cautioned that cases are on the rise elsewhere.
Proof of vaccination needed for non-essential services
During the briefing, it was also announced the province will require proof of vaccination as of Oct. 4 from people aged 12 and older for non-essential and leisure services, such as dining in restaurants, working out in gyms and attending concerts.
Tim Houston told reporters Thursday he’s had a positive response from the various industries and the general population about the plan, and his government will work with companies on any issues that may arise.
However, he said initially the province has no plans to have a roving enforcement team to ensure compliance with the new rule, as he expects businesses will voluntarily adopt measures to check people’s vaccine documents.
He said for now, public health emails and mailed documents indicating full vaccination will suffice, but there are plans afoot to create a more standard and secure document that meets national standards still being developed in Ottawa.
Public health officials have said that as other public health restrictions are loosened, the vaccine policy will make non-essential gatherings far safer, as vaccination significantly reduces the risk of an outbreak.
According to the province’s data dashboard, 78.3 per cent of the total population has received one or more doses of a vaccine. Specifically, 72 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated with both doses.
— With a file from The Canadian Press