Nova Scotians are facing a host of new restrictions as the province tries to stem an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Nova Scotia is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
Nine of the cases are in the central zone, with five being close contacts of previously reported cases and one being related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. Three are under investigation. One case is in the eastern zone.
Nova Scotians are being asked to avoid non-essential travel within the province and elsewhere, especially to and from restricted areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality, Hants County and Lunenburg County.
“We have to activate what we’re calling a circuit breaker in HRM,” said Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health. “We had hoped we would not be back in this situation, but a return to these type of restrictions are necessary.
“I fully appreciate how disruptive they are to families, to individuals, to businesses, however, COVID-19 is a social virus, so we need to focus our restrictions to limit social activities.”
Beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, the following restrictions apply to the Halifax Regional Municipality, up to and including Porters Lake, as well as Enfield, Elmsdale, Mount Uniacke and Hubbards:
- Residents in long-term care homes may only have visits from designated caregivers, and can only leave for medical appointments or for a drive.
- Restaurants and bars must stop serving food and drink by 9 p.m. and must close by 10 p.m.
- Sports games and events, as well as arts and culture events and festivals will no longer be permitted, but sports practices and arts and culture rehearsals can continue with a limit of 25 people participating.
- Faith gatherings can have 150 people outdoors, or 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 100 people indoors.
- Weddings and funerals are permitted to have 10 people but no receptions are permitted.
- Business and organized club meetings and training may have 25 people with physical distancing, except where emergency responders need to be closer for training.
- There can be no more than 25 people involved in a virtual performance, including performers and people managing the live stream.
The restrictions will be in place until at least Friday, March 26.
“I wish I had better news today, but unfortunately our case numbers continue to climb,” Premier Iain Rankin said during the briefing. “Dr. Strang warned us of this earlier in the week. Now we have to face our new reality. COVID is making a comeback in parts of our province.”
Other restrictions currently in place remain across the province, including restricting gatherings in homes to 10, reduced retail, mall and fitness facility capacities.
Effective Monday, the province also announced new testing requirements for domestic rotational workers and specialized workers, as well as for parents and children whose child custody arrangements see them travelling outside of Nova Scotia or P.E.I.
The province’s health authority completed 2,797 tests across the province on Thursday.
The last time Nova Scotia saw 10 or more cases in a single day was Jan. 6, when 12 new cases were reported.
Case at Irving Shipbuilding
Irving temporarily suspended operations Friday at its shipyard on the Halifax waterfront after one case of COVID-19 was confirmed the day before.
Rankin said the company is investigating potential spread at the facility and all close contacts will be tested.
The company is also developing a plan to test all employees at the shipyard, Rankin said.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- New Brunswick reported one new case Thursday, for a total of 49 known active cases. The province had two people in hospital related to COVID-19, one in intensive care.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported 10 new cases on Thursday. The province also reported 20 new recoveries, leaving the number of known active cases at 335.
- P.E.I. reported a “cluster” of three new cases on Thursday, all under investigation by public health, making for six known active cases on the Island.