Friday, March 13: Here's how Nova Scotia is being impacted by COVID-19 today
A round-up of the latest local cancellations and restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic
- People who think they may have COVID-19 must call 811 first before they can be tested
- Officials preparing for a spike in testing after families return from March Break trips abroad
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, but there are preparations underway around the province.
Here's what's happening:
Self-isolation required for returning public sector employees
- All public sector employees, including health-care workers, teachers and others, who are returning from travel outside Canada are now required to self-isolate for 14 days.
- The province is encouraging the private sector to follow suit and have their employees also self-isolate who have travelled internationally.
Cultural spots and businesses
- The Town of Amherst will temporarily close or restrict public access to a number of facilities. This includes the Amherst Fire Hall, the Francis Smith Community Room at the Amherst Police Department, the public works garage, certain rooms inside the Community Credit Union Building, The Amherst Stadium is also closed to the public.
- Medavie Blue Cross has temporarily closed its MSI reception office in Dartmouth to in-person visits as on March 16.
- Nova Scotia Museum sites and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax will close until further notice. This includes Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Museum of Natural History in Halifax, Museum of Industry in Stellarton, Ross Farm Museum in New Ross, Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, Firefighters Museum in Yarmouth and Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown, Shelburne Co.
- Halifax Public Libraries cancelling all events effective Monday, March 16,
- The province is also asking that public gatherings be limited to no more than 150 people in Nova Scotia. This is a request for now, but the province said Friday that could become a requirement, if needed.
- The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market building will be closed Saturday and remain closed until further notice.
- Farmers' Markets of Nova Scotia is calling on all markets in N.S. to stay open, but to limit total occupancy to no more than 150 people at a time.
The Nova Scotia Supreme Court has suspended all upcoming jury trials in the province for a 60-day period. The directive is effective immediately and applies to all jury trials that have not yet started in court. The court will revaluate the situation at the end of the 60 days.
Neptune Theatre has discontinued all performances of Calendar Girls, Ghost Light and Alex Zerbe's Zaniac Comedy Show. Ticket holders can contact the Box Office to choose their next steps.
Symphony Nova Scotia has cancelled 10 concerts in their 2019/20 season.
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 will close to visitors and all other groups effective Saturday until further notice.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality has postponed all non-essential meetings, and closed all recreation facilities for a minimum of 30 days.
The Halifax municipality has cancelled all swimming lessons at the Captain William Spry Wave Pool and the Sackville Sports Stadium. Swimming lessons at Needham Pool will continue as scheduled.
Schools and universities
- Dalhousie University, the University of King's College, Mount Saint Vincent University and Saint Mary's University will suspend in-person classes beginning March 16. The suspension will last a week at Dal, King's and SMU. The in-person class suspension will last until the end of term at MSVU.
- Regional centres for education in Nova Scotia and Conseil scolaire acadien provincial have suspended all out-of-province work travel, professional development activities, extra-curricular activities including sports and assemblies or gatherings of students until the end of April.
- Students in public schools who have travelled internationally, and those in childcare, must self-isolate for two weeks before returning to the classroom or daycares.
- The province is also asking universities and colleges to instruct their students and faculty to do the same.
- High schools in the Halifax Regional Centre for Education cancelled exam exemptions for the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year. The decision was made after concerns that continuing to offer exemptions during the COVID-19 pandemic could encourage students to attend school when they are sick.
- Dalhousie University has cancelled its March Break camps.
- Cape Breton University has cancelled all non-essential domestic and international work travel, as well as all upcoming events until March 31, 2020.
- The Cape Breton University Capers basketball camps scheduled for March 16-19 2020 have been cancelled.
- We'koqma'q Mi'kmaw School in Cape Breton will remain closed for a week after March Break and King's-Edgehill School in Windsor will be closed for two weeks after the end of its March Break.
- All of Nova Scotia's regional centres for education have cancelled international school trips before April 30.
- Dalhousie University and the University of King's College in Halifax have cancelled all international field courses until September 2020. They also cancelled all student, faculty and staff travel for university purposes to any country with a Public Health Agency of Canada travel health notice related to COVID-19
Dalhousie Medical School says residents will follow the new travel measures for public sector employees, which includes health-care workers. The university has also cancelled all electives for residents scheduled outside of the Maritimes.
- Dalhousie Crossroads, an annual interdisciplinary health research conference set for this weekend at the university, has been cancelled.
- Saint Mary's University in Halifax has cancelled all university-related travel to China, Iran, Italy and parts of South Korea.
- Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) in Halifax has cancelled all university-related travel to all of the countries with active COVID-19 travel notices.
- MSVU has also cancelled all events on campus involving 150 people or more, effective immediately.
- The Nova Scotia Nurses' Union has postponed a week-long annual general meeting scheduled in April.
- The Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK say they are limiting visitors at all sites to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A patient can name up to two people who will be their family or primary support person/people.
- The Nova Scotia Health Authority has opened a number of COVID-19 testing sites and plans to open more in the coming days.
- As demand for COVID-19 testing increases in Nova Scotia, the province has taken a step to speed up the process. Negative tests can now be declared at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax within 24 hours. Presumptive cases will still go to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for confirmation.
- The province is restricting anyone who travelled outside the country in the last 14 days from entering long-term care homes.
- Via Rail has suspended its Canadian and Ocean routes because of COVID-19 until March 27.
- As of March 13, there are no impacts to municipal services in Halifax, including Halifax Transit. Enhanced cleaning is being undertaken at municipal facilities, including the installation of hand-sanitization stations.
- Overseas international flights arriving in Canada will now be restricted to a small number of airports. It is still being decided which airports these will be.
- The Halifax International Airport Authority says it updated its pandemic plan and is monitoring the situation. It said it's working to enhance cleaning in high-traffic areas and have deployed more public hand-sanitizing stations.
- The airport authority also said it's putting additional screening measures in place to help identify any travellers returning to Canada who might be ill.
- No boats or cruise ships with more than 500 people on board will be allowed to dock in Canada until July 1.
Events and sports
- The Pictou County Home Show and Stone's RV Indoor Clearance Event has been postponed. A new date has yet to be released.
- Basketball Nova Scotia has cancelled all sanctioned events until further notice.
- U Sports announced Thursday night the 2020 university hockey championships have been cancelled. The women's tournament was happening in Charlottetown while the men were in Halifax.
- The Maritime Junior Hockey League has cancelled its playoffs.
- All Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities, including national championships, have been cancelled until further notice.
- All Hockey Nova Scotia events, including: minor hockey games and practices, all provincial tournaments, and all minor hockey and female hockey tournaments, have been cancelled.
- The QMJHL has suspended its season, with all Halifax Mooseheads and Cape Breton Eagles games paused until further notice.
- The National Basketball League of Canada is suspending operations until further notice as a result of concerns regarding COVID-19. This includes all Halifax Hurricanes games.
- The 2020 Halifax St. Patrick's Day parade scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled.
- The 2020 Ice Hockey Women's World Championship, scheduled for March 31-April 10, has been cancelled.
- The Science Atlantic conferences planned at Cape Breton University for this weekend have been cancelled.
- The 2020 Building Employment Skills for Successful Transitions (BEST) conference planned for Saturday at Saint Mary's University in Halifax has been cancelled.
- The National Lacrosse League has suspended play until further notice, including all Halifax Thunderbirds games.
- The Trauma Association of Canada has cancelled their upcoming Scientific Meeting and Conference scheduled March 25-27, 2020 in Halifax. Its annual general meeting on March 26 will be rescheduled as a teleconference at a future date.
- Soccer Nova Scotia has suspended all activities until further notice. This includes all competitions, league play, training, practices, team-building activities and coach education.
- The Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities has cancelled regional meetings scheduled for April and a spring conference in Cape Breton set for May 6-8.
- The Nova Scotia Craft Beer Festival set for March 21 has been cancelled.
- The Vince Ryan hockey tournament in Sydney, N.S. from March 19-22 has been cancelled.
The Nova Scotia Curling Association has suspended activities, effective Friday at 5 p.m. This includes all provincial events already underway.
Football Nova Scotia has cancelled all programming for at least three weeks. On April 3, they will reassess the situation.
The NSSAF has suspended all school sports and activities across Nova Scotia until April 30.
Casino Nova Scotia has postponed three upcoming shows: The Clairvoyants (April 1), Loverboy (April 6), Terry Fator (April 18). They have also cancelled the March 29 show, My Bonny – An All Star Tribute to Laura Smith.
- For those church services that continue with fewer than 150 people in attendance as per the province's direction, the following announcements have been made:
- Both Anglican and Catholic parishes throughout Nova Scotia have been instructed to not offer Communion wine for the time being, and offer the sign of peace through a nodding of the head or a smile rather than shaking hands. Holy water fonts are also being emptied.
- The Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, and Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada have echoed the points about limiting physical contact and communal cups and plates.
- All five mosques in HRM (Nova Scotia Islamic Community Centre, Islamic Association of Nova Scotia, Barakah Masjid, Centre for Islamic Development and Ummah Masjid and Community Centre) have decided to cancel Jummah prayers until further notice. In the meantime, there will be meetings to discuss protocols for the five daily prayers and how, if at all, they can be carried out in the mosques.