Parts of N.S. economy, like hair salons, bars, gyms, can reopen if ready June 5
'We believe we found a balance between public safety and restarting our economy,' premier says
Parts of Nova Scotia's economy can begin to reopen June 5 if they're ready and follow public health protocol.
Premier Stephen McNeil made the announcement during a press briefing on Wednesday.
"We believe we found a balance between public safety and restarting our economy," McNeil said.
If ready, McNeil said the following can reopen June 5:
- Restaurants for dine-in.
- Bars, wineries, distilleries and craft beer taprooms.
- Personal services like hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours.
- Fitness facilities like gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities.
Other health providers can also reopen on June 5 if they follow protocols in their college or association's plan, as approved by public health, including:
- Dentistry and other self-regulated health professions such as optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy.
- Unregulated health professions such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.
Lounges are not permitted to reopen yet.
Some services at salons and spas are still prohibited, including eyelash extensions, brow and lash tinting, facial services and extractions.
"We are still moving slowly, but this is a good first step," McNeil said.
The reopening date for daycares has been pushed back from June 8 to June 15.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said businesses reopening must follow public health protocols. Details will be made public in the near future, but some include:
- Keeping a distance of two metres wherever possible.
- Encourage the wearing of non-medical masks when it's difficult to maintain a two-metre distance.
- Staying within the gathering limit of people.
- Frequent cleaning of high-use areas, like surfaces and washrooms.
- Frequent handwashing.
- Limiting non-essential travel.
- Reminding people to stay home if they're feeling unwell.
Strang said these rules are here to stay "for significant lengths of time." He said if a business is too small for the two-metre distance requirement, then the gathering limit must be respected. It is currently five, but that could change by June 5.
He said any changes to the gathering limit would be made based on epidemiology.
McNeil encouraged businesses that aren't ready to open by June 5 to wait a little longer. He said he would have more to say about reopening Nova Scotia's economy and social gatherings at the next provincial briefing on Friday.
The government could not immediately provide details on how it would enforce public health orders as businesses begin to reopen.
A spokesperson said the Labour and Environment departments are "working on a collaborative approach to enforcement."
$25M reopening grant
McNeil also announced a small business reopening support grant, which totals $25 million.
The fund, McNeil said, would provide eligible small businesses, not-for-profit charities and social enterprises with a grant of up to $5,000 to help them reopen safely.
"Many of you have to operate under entirely new conditions and maybe even change your business model," McNeil said.
In addition to the grant, he said the province is offering a voucher worth $1,500 to access consulting services to offer advice.
The program is for those ordered to close under the public health order, along with small independent retailers, independent gas retailers and dental clinics, McNeil said.
Businesses that applied for the small business grant announced in April will be contacted by the province directly. For everyone else, applications will be online starting June 1.
$230M in infrastructure spending
McNeil announced new infrastructure spending of $230 million.
He said this money will go toward more than 200 shovel-ready projects, including highways, expansion of the gravel road program, expansion of bridges, green energy projects, school repairs, waterfronts, small option homes and provincial museum upgrades.
"These projects will support small and medium-sized construction companies across our province who will hire Nova Scotians to do that work," McNeil said.
McNeil said the investment would create "some 2,000 jobs this fiscal year." He said tenders are being issued immediately.
McNeil said the $230 million is in addition to the $1-billion capital plan that was announced in February.
A provincial spokesperson for Nova Scotia's Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department said in an email there have been discussions with industry and "they believe they have the capacity to do the work."
According to the department, there is federal funding committed to Nova Scotia's highway improvement projects. The department said there are "ongoing discussions" with the federal government over its participation in stimulus investments in Nova Scotia.
Restaurants happy to reopen, but worried about future
The head of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia said his members are happy to reopen but worried about trying to pay bills in the months ahead with drastically less income.
"It is going to be the toughest thing they've ever gone through," Gordon Stewart told CBC's Mainstreet on Wednesday, adding he believes about 200 restaurants may never reopen.
The restaurant experience will also be very different for both staff and customers from a pre-pandemic world, Stewart said.
"It might take a little longer because we have to go around more things and do more things to be safe overall," he said.
Stewart said the industry will need help going forward and he urged Nova Scotians to support their local restaurants.
1 new case of COVID-19
Nova Scotia reported one new case of COVID-19 Wednesday.
The newest case was at Northwood and was identified Tuesday among 533 tests. The province said the long-term care home in Halifax has four staff and 12 residents with active cases of COVID-19; that's one more resident than Tuesday.
A total of 59 Nova Scotians have died of COVID-19, including 52 at Northwood.
Seven individuals are currently in hospital, three of them in intensive care.
To date, 975 people have recovered from the virus. On Tuesday, that number was 976. Strang said the number changed for accuracy.
There are currently 19 known active cases of the virus in Nova Scotia.
COVID-19 symptom list expands
The list of COVID-19 symptoms recently expanded. People with one or more of the following updated list of symptoms are asked to visit 811's website:
- Fever (chills, sweats).
- Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
- Sore throat.
- Shortness of breath.
- Muscle aches.
- Nasal congestion/runny nose.
- Hoarse voice.
- Unusual fatigue.
- Loss of sense of smell or taste.
- Red, purple or bluish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers that do not have a clear cause.
With files from CBC's Mainstreet and Michael Gorman