New COVID-19 restrictions arrive in Nova Scotia this week as the province continues to face a significant spike in cases – including 522 new cases on Tuesday, a new all-time high.
“What we are asking now is probably the most difficult request we have made to date,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Nova Scotia. “It’s been two long years and there is a lot of disappointment in having to do this again during the holiday season.”
Strang said the new restrictions, which come into effect Wednesday and will be in place until at least January 12, are due to the ease with which the Omicron variant spreads.
The restrictions affect collection limits for business and personal events such as weddings, funerals, sports, shopping, the arts, restaurants, bars, hair salons, long-term care facilities and theaters .
Physical distancing and masking requirements will remain in place, and the number of people allowed to gather informally in places like homes has been reduced from 20 to 10.
“Our goal is to slow things down,” Strang said.
Groups of 10 indoor and 25 outdoor can participate in training and sports training, but spectators, games and tournaments are canceled. The same group limits apply to artistic and cultural rehearsals and virtual performances.
“Please slow down, be careful,” Prime Minister Tim Houston said.
Reduce collection limits everywhere
Events for companies and recognized organizations will have meeting limits reduced to 25% of their capacity, up to a maximum of 50 people for indoors and outdoors. This includes church services, weddings, funerals and associated visitations, cinemas, meetings and training.
Wedding and funeral receptions will not be permitted, but Strang said “we will allow the actual ceremony with visitation associated with the funeral.” In-person religious gatherings will only be permitted for one singing person, and choirs and congregational singing are not permitted. The rule of song also applies to bars and restaurants.
“Singing dramatically increases the likelihood of the virus spreading in shared airspace,” Strang said.
Retail stores, shopping centers, museums, libraries, and leisure and recreation businesses and organizations will be allowed to remain open, but at half capacity. Fitness facilities are also allowed to continue operating, but at 50% capacity. Individual personal training will also be allowed to continue.
Restaurants and bars can continue to operate at half capacity and there must be a physical distance between the tables. The limit per table is 10 people. Room service must end at 11 p.m. and seated service must end before midnight. Take-out and pick-up are permitted after midnight.
Hair salons are allowed to continue operating at their maximum capacity with physical distancing, but services requiring unmasking are not permitted.
In long-term care facilities, only two regular visitors per resident will be allowed. Residents will only be allowed to leave for medical appointments or a walk with their regular visitors, even if visitors are fully vaccinated. Only residents with booster doses can access on-site services such as hairdressing.
“I hope you take advantage of a quieter holiday season to slow down and think about what’s really important – friends, family and good health,” Strang said.
The province has announced outbreaks at the Halifax Infirmary and St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish. Each epidemic affects less than five patients.
There were 382 new cases reported Tuesday in the central zone, 59 cases in the east zone, 38 cases in the north zone and 43 cases in the west zone. Nine people are hospitalized, including three in intensive care.
Starting Wednesday, people aged 50 and over who received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago will be eligible to receive their booster shots.
The province has announced changes to its testing strategy for COVID-19. PCR or laboratory tests will be limited to people with symptoms or close contact and at risk of serious illness or living in a collective setting or forming an integral part of the operation of the province’s health system.
“Now the demand is that we do targeted testing,” Houston said. “If you don’t test when the time is right, it’s a false sense of security and there is no room for a false sense of security in this environment here.”
Houston said it has heard of people taking rapid tests and testing negative several days in a row before testing positive. He said, for example, that if someone were exposed to COVID-19 today, it could take at least 72 hours for them to show up on a test.
“We see people testing everyday thinking they’re okay, and they really need to look at the schedule, think about their contacts, think about their own exhibits, and test when the time is right,” he said. -he declares.
Two cases were reported at the Parkstone Enhanced Care long-term care home in Clayton Park on Monday.
Mount Saint Vincent University announced Tuesday that it will postpone the first day of classes in the winter semester until January 10 and that classes will be online for all courses and labs until January 31.
The Prince Edward Island government has announced that starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, everyone arriving on the island will be required to self-isolate for four days. Houston said there are no plans to change the border restrictions Nova Scotia already has in place.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced Tuesday that it will extend its holiday break, resuming the regular season schedule on January 7.
In response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the Antigonish area, Nova Scotia Health said it is running an pop-up clinic for people with acute respiratory symptoms at the St. FX Health Center from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. wednesday. This is by appointment only, which must be made by calling 902-870-7008 within the hour before the clinic opens.
The province added seven more school exhibits on Tuesday:
- Evangeline College in New Minas
- St. Mary’s Elementary School in Aylesford
- GR Saunders Primary School in Stellarton
- Riverside Education Center in Milford
- Brookhouse Elementary School in Dartmouth
- Madeline Symonds Middle School in Hammonds Plains
- Rural High School of New Germany in New Germany
The province maintains a list of school exhibitions here.