Starting Monday, residents in Halifax Regional Commune will be limited to just five people gathering in a close social group without physical distancing, out of 10.
This is one of several new COVID-19 protection measures announced in Nova Scotia on Friday, after the Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer of Health expressed concern for 18-35 year olds in the province.
“They will come out when they feel sick. They will come out in large groups and different honest groups and they are not distancing themselves,” Stephen McNeil said on Friday.
“They are living as if COVID does not exist.”
The new collection boundaries will apply to most of Halifax Regional Commune, which stretches from Lake Porters Peggys Coveto. The part of the municipality east of Lake Porters in Ecum Secumw will be excluded as cases are not appearing there.
The boundaries also include the Enfield and Mount Uniacke areas north of Halifax, but they do not apply to Elmsdale and the communities north of there.
From November 23, at 12:01 in the morning, until December 21, the collection limits in those areas will be as follows:
- Five people can gather in a close social group without physical distancing, from 10.
- A family can have more than five members, but they can only go out of the house in groups of five.
- Families can only have a maximum of five visitors at a time.
- On-site gatherings in long-term care institutions can have a maximum of five people (including residents and staff), out of 10.
- Adult daily programs for seniors living in the community will not be allowed.
- 25 people, out of 50, can physically gather for informal social events indoors and outdoors like a street party in the neighborhood.
- Indoor events run by a well-known business or organization can have 50 percent of the site capacity to a maximum of 100 people with physical distance, from 200.
- Outdoor events run by a well-known business or organization can have 150 people with physical distance, out of 250.
Five new cases on Friday
Five new cases were identified on Friday, all in the central area of the province around the Halifax area. Three cases are under investigation and another is a close contact of an Auburn Drive High School case, while another is related to a previously reported case.
There are now 28 active cases in Nova Scotia.
Dr. Robert Strang said community expansion is happening in the province right now, “and it continues and continues to grow”. He said approximately 10 to 12 of the current cases are related to community spread.
“While travel ignited our initial cases a few weeks ago, it is now the social activity that is igniting the flame and causing the virus to circulate more widely,” Strang said on Friday.
“This is an extremely disturbing place to be and should concern all of us, every Nova Scotian. I’m concerned about the potential of this meeting situation.”
McNeil said the province is at a critical juncture.
“If we do not act now, it may be too late. That is why we are taking targeted access to the central area to contain the virus here and control the spread.”
Auburn Drive, Graham Creighton to close for 2 weeks
Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbor and Graham Creighton Junior High in Cherry Brook will be closed for two weeks for a deep cleanup and as a precautionary measure, as two cases were identified in Auburn and one in Graham Creighton. The schools will plan to reopen on December 7th
Students will switch to full online learning and will be equipped with computers as needed.
Staff at the Halifax Peninsula will undergo asymptomatic testing over seven days, starting early next week. As of Monday, every restaurant or licensed institution in the province must collect accurate contact information for each defender.
In the Halifax area, people can not sit at a table with more than five people on Monday in effect.
“Employees are there to serve you, not to police you. When you break protocols, you are putting them at risk, and honestly that is not fair to them or their family,” McNeil said.
New long-term care restrictions
New restrictions were also imposed on long-term care facilities in the province, starting Monday at 12:01 a.m. and lasting until December. 21:
- Residents can leave their facilities only for medical and dental appointments.
- A designated registered caretaker may take a resident for a sightseeing car ride, but they may not include additional passengers or shopping stops, visits of any kind, or use drive-thrus.
- A facility may continue scenic exits using their vehicles, but physical distance is required. No other passengers are allowed in the vehicle and there are no stops of any kind including the use of drive-thrus.
Christmas ‘should be different this year’
Strang also said he is worried about the Christmas season, which is often filled with large gatherings, parties and people gathering in malls.
“This is one of the reasons we are starting now with stricter restrictions. As I said, we hope to get things under control and start easing closer to Christmas,” he said.
“People need to get this in their head now: Christmas or any other festive part of the holiday season needs to be different this year … We need to spend the holiday season practicing COVID security.”
Strang reiterated that people should not travel this Christmas season.
He also said when it comes to shopping during the holidays, people should wear a mask and if they go to a store that is full, they should come back later when fewer people are there.
“Everyone has to think, how much do I really need to go out? How many places do I have to go?” Tha Strang.
Cases of Atlantic bubbles
Active exposure sites in most of Halifax’s area are listed here.
There were 1,384 tests completed in Nova Scotia labs on Thursday.
To date, Nova Scotia has had 1,160 confirmed cases and 65 deaths related to the virus.
The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are:
- New Brunswickreported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the number of active cases to 32.
- Newfoundland and Labradorreported several cases on Friday and the province now has 13 active cases. One of the newly confirmed cases is a man between 20 and 29 years old, a resident of NL, who recently returned to the province from Nova Scotia.
- PEIlast reported a new case November 11th. The province has three active cases.
Anyone with one of the following symptoms should visit COVID-19self-assessment websiteor call 811:
- Coughing or worsening of a previous cough.
Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also required to visit the website or call 811:
- Sore throat.
- Shortness of breath.
- Liquid nose.
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