Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, announced on May 28, that the province will reopen gradually under a five-phase plan.
“Our phased plan will allow us to safely enjoy summer with public health measures in place while we work at getting most of our population fully vaccinated,” said Premier Rankin. “Then we should be able to further ease restrictions in the fall and ease in to a new normal of living with COVID-19.”
Each phase is based on COVID-19 activity, public health and testing capacity, hospitalizations and vaccination rates. Phases are expected to last between two and four weeks as long as certain criteria are met in these areas.
Travel will no longer be restricted within most of Nova Scotia, although people are asked to avoid non-essential travel into and out of Cape Breton Regional Municipality and into and out of areas of Halifax Regional Municipality, Hubbards, Milford, Lantz, Elmsdale, Enfield, Mount Uniacke, South Uniacke, Ecum Secum and Trafalgar. A final decision will be made about travel for those areas of the province early next week, based on COVID-19 activity.
Starting Wednesday, June 2, key changes in phase one include most businesses opening further, outdoor visits at long-term care facilities, and outdoor gathering limits increasing. In subsequent phases, businesses will gradually increase capacity to the maximum capacity possible with public health measures such as physical distancing, gathering limits will further increase, events and activities will be allowed with increasing numbers of attendees, and border restrictions will start easing.
“Our epidemiology is going in the right direction and we’re at more than 50 per cent of Nova Scotians having one or more doses of vaccine, so we can start to take our first cautious steps toward reopening for the summer,” said Dr. Strang. “In deciding exactly when to move to each new phase, we will consider case numbers, hospitalizations and use of health system resources as well as the percentage of Nova Scotians who’ve been vaccinated. The more people who get vaccinated, the more we can reopen our province.”
Restrictions are easing effective 8 a.m., June 2, as phase one gets fully underway:
- Nova Scotians can gather outdoors with a consistent social group of up to 10 people without physical distance
- the limit for indoor gatherings remains the people you live with; two households with one or two people each can still join together but they must be the same two households all the time
- faith gatherings can be held outdoors with a limit of 10 plus officiants when hosted by a recognized organization; drive-in services are allowed with no limit on numbers
- wedding and funeral ceremonies remain limited to five plus officiants indoors but can increase to 10 plus officiants outdoors; there can be no receptions or visitations
- restaurants and licensed establishments can open patios at their maximum capacity with physical distance between tables, a limit of 10 people per table and masks when people are not eating or drinking; they must stop service by 11 p.m. and close by midnight
- all retail stores can operate at 25 per cent capacity, ensuring physical distance
- personal services such as hair salons, barber shops and spas can operate by appointment only following their sector plan but cannot offer services that require removing the customer’s mask
- fitness and recreation facilities can offer outdoor activities with a limit of 10 people with physical distancing, or multiple groups of 10 that are distanced on their own property, as well as one-on-one personal training indoors
- outdoor pools can open with a limit of 10 people at a time with physical distancing
- organized sports practices can have 10 people outdoors without physical distancing, or multiple groups of 10 that are distanced
- professional arts and culture organizations can hold rehearsals with 15 people indoors and amateur rehearsals can have 10 people outdoors without physical distancing
- drive-in theatres can operate with no limit on numbers
- campgrounds can offer season and short-term camping following their sector plan with distance between campsites
- residents of long-term care facilities can have visitors outdoors; visitors must wear masks but no physical distance is required if the resident is fully vaccinated
- recreation activities and services such as hairstyling can resume for fully vaccinated residents of long-term care facilities
- fully vaccinated residents of homes licensed by the Department of Health and Wellness under the Homes for Special Care Act can resume access to their communities for work or school
- fully vaccinated residents of homes licensed by the Department of Community Service under the Homes for Special Care Act can resume access to their communities for work, therapy, recreation and family visits
- more people can get exceptions to enter Nova Scotia for end-of-life visits with immediate family members
- students from within Canada can apply to enter the province for in-person or virtual studies if they are enrolled in the summer semester
People who do not follow the public health measures can be fined. For example, the fine is now $2,000 for each person at an illegal gathering.
A passenger testing program at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport is planned. Other border testing measures are being considered. More details will be released as they are developed.
The reopening plan can be found at: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/reopening-safely-with-COVID-19-plan-overview.pdf
COVID-19 testing appointments: https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus
Government of Canada information line 1-833-784-4397 (toll-free)
The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)
If you need help with a non-crisis mental health or addiction concern call Community Mental Health and Addictions at 1-855-922-1122 (toll-free) weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)
For help or information about domestic violence 24/7, call 1-855-225-0220 (toll-free)
For more information about COVID-19 testing and online booking, visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/