N.S. reveals phased-in plan to reopen from COVID-19 lockdown

Premier Iain Rankin speaks during a COVID-19 briefing earlier this week. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Nova Scotia has revealed a phased-in approach to reopen from lockdown as the number of active COVID-19 cases continues to drop and more Nova Scotians get vaccinated.

The first phase will begin on June 2 at 8 a.m., and will include:

  • Restaurants and bars can open their outdoor patios, provided there is six feet of distancing between groups and a maximum of 10 people per table.
  • Nova Scotians will be allowed to gather outdoors with a steady group of up to 10 people.
  • The limit for indoor gatherings remains the people you live with — two households with one or two people can still join together but they must be the same two households each time.
  • Non-essential retail stores can operate at 25 per cent capacity, ensuring physical distancing.
  • Residents of long-term care facilities can have visitors outdoors — visitors must still wear masks but do not need to maintain physical distancing if the resident is fully vaccinated.
  • Faith gatherings can be held outdoors with a limit of 10 people plus officiants when hosted by a recognized organization. Drive-in services are allowed with no limit to how many people can attend.
  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies remain limited to five people plus officiants if they are held indoors — if they are held outdoors, they are limited to 10 people plus officiants. Receptions and visitations are still not permitted.
  • Personal services, like hair salons, barber shops, and spas can operate by appointment only, and cannot offer services that require a customer to remove their mask.
  • Organized sports practices and 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.
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Travel will no longer be restricted within most of the province.

But people are still being asked to avoid non-essential travel in and out of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality, the two areas in the province with confirmed community spread.

‘Slow, cautious approach’

Each phase has a general timeframe of two to four weeks, depending on COVID-19 activity in the province, testing capacity, and hospitalization and vaccination rates.

“We have learned in Nova Scotia a slow, cautious approach works, and doing that allows you to move forward … we do not want to lockdown again. That would be the worst possible thing,” said Dr. Robert Strang the province’s chief medical officer of health.

The second phase will see restaurants open to indoor dining, provided they can continue to maintain six feet of distance between tables. Retail stores, gyms, and fitness facilities will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Outdoor gathering limits will increase to 25 people, as will sports practices and arts and culture rehearsals.

The third phase, another two to four weeks later, would see those businesses extend their operating hours. After that, likely toward the end of July if case numbers and hospitalizations stay low, those businesses could open to regular operating hours.

The province is looking at a target date of Canada Day for the potential reopening of the Atlantic bubble, but Strang said there are a lot of discussions that will need to happen first.

Both Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick released reopening plans earlier this week.

P.E.I. hopes to open its borders to travellers from within Atlantic Canada by June 27, while New Brunswick plans to open its borders to all Atlantic provinces except Nova Scotia on June 7.

1 new death, 40 new cases

Another person in Nova Scotia has died related to COVID-19, making it the province’s 80th death since the pandemic began.

It was a woman in her 50s in the central health zone.

The province is also reporting 40 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 585.

Twenty-nine new cases are in the central zone, five in the eastern zone, four in the northern zone and two in the western zone.

Fifty-three Nova Scotians are in hospital related to the virus, including 18 in intensive care, according to a news release from the Department of Health.

One month ago, the number of daily new cases was steadily rising as a third wave of COVID-19 gripped the province.

The number of daily new cases peaked at 227 on May 7.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • New Brunswick reported nine new cases on Friday. The province has 139 active cases.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported 14 new cases on Thursday and 96 active cases.
  • P.E.I. reported two new cases on Friday. There are 12 active cases.

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