As of 12:01 a.m. Monday, Nova Scotian restaurants like The Old Triangle will be able to return to regular operating hours. The province is entering Phase 2 of its COVID-19 reopening plan.
“It’s a good step in getting back to life,” says owner Brendan Doherty. “I think the overall confidence it will give the general public in coming back out, seeing that we’re able to operate at normal hours, I think that will be very beneficial to us.”
Gathering limits for informal outdoor activities will be 50 people without masks or social distancing, up from 25. Limits for informal indoor activities remains 25.
Services such as hair salons, spas and tattoo shops will be able to operate at 100 per cent capacity with mask requirements and distancing.
Bars and restaurants can operate at 75 per cent capacity and allow up to 25 visitors per table. Establishments should still maintain a physical distance of two metres between people at different tables, the province says.
Live music and dancing with face masks will also be allowed at liquor-licensed establishments.
Retail businesses will be able to operate at full capacity as of Monday, but customers must wear masks and maintain a physical distance. Food courts can operate at 75 per cent capacity.
Phase 2 also means before and after school programs can operate with up to 30 people in each individual group without social distancing.
Participants in organized performing arts and sports can gather with up to 60 people without social distancing for rehearsals, performances, training, games and tournaments.
Large event venues of at least 100,000 square feet, like the Scotiabank Centre, can operate at 75 per cent of its capacity up to 5,000 people while enforcing physical distancing and mask wearing.
The same goes for Centre 200 in Sydney, and Gerard Shaw, the team’s president, says the potential for more fans is good news. But so is being able to eat or drink in your seats, rather than go to a designated area, he says.
“That’s a big thing for the venues, big for us as well,” he says. “It’s part of the whole entertainment experience.”
Shaw agrees public confidence will be critical.
“We’ll do some surveys and we’ll do some talking to our fanbase about how you felt in the facility in the games that we had, if there’s anything that we can change to encourage a better experience and people feeling more comfortable, we’ll certainly do that,” he says.
He says they’ll encourage people who want to, to wear their masks, and let people move to other seats if they feel safer.
Faith organizations, mental health support groups, government organizations and other organized clubs can operate at 75 per cent capacity, up from 50 per cent in Phase 1. Faith services can operate at 75 per cent of the venue capacity and congregational singing will continue to be permitted with masks.
Movie theatres can also operate at 75 per cent capacity, and eating and drinking will be allowed once again. Masks are required but can be lowered to eat or drink while seated.
Museums, libraries, art galleries, bus and boat tours can operate at full capacity with masks.
As of Feb. 28, proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 isn’t required to participate in any of these activities that gather people together.
Nova Scotia is poised to remove all COVID-19 restrictions as of March 21.
That’s the date Doherty, The Old Triangle owner, has circled on his calendar.
“We’re very much looking forward to that one. I think we’re finally at the point where people are allowed to make their own decisions,” he says. “Amongst us, I have many staff who are going to continue wearing their masks, I probably will too when with the people.”
“But honestly,” he says, “it’s going to be really nice to not have to be the COVID police anymore.”
Public Health is still recommending people mask up, even after restrictions come to an end.
— With files from Karla Renić