Nova Scotia

Second COVID-19 case confirmed at N.S. legislature

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Province House, which was recently closed to the public as a result of the first positive case, sparking allegations of a double-standard for politicians and the rest of Nova Scotia.

Anyone who has been at the spring sitting of the legislature is encouraged to get tested for COVID-19

There have been two confirmed cases of COVID-19 connected to Province House since the spring sitting of the legislature began last Thursday. (Robert Short/CBC)

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at the Nova Scotia Legislature, which was recently closed to the public as a result of the first positive case.

On Saturday, Speaker Keith Bain sent out a memo announcing that someone who was inside Province House last Thursday and Friday had tested positive for the coronavirus.

That person was later confirmed to be a PC MLA.

Bain's decision to close the legislature to the public was met with allegations of a double standard.

The rules for Province House are in stark contrast to other public venues where access to buildings, particularly schools, is not being restricted when there are COVID-19 exposures in those places.

As well, Bain has mandated that masks be worn inside the legislature. Masks are no longer required in almost every other public building in the province, with the exception of health care facilities, jails and courts. Schools are continuing to mandate masks until mid-April, although the province lifted COVID-19 public health restrictions on March 21.

On Monday, Liberal Leader Iain Rankin said he agrees with Nova Scotians who claim there's now a double standard, saying that if restrictions are lifted elsewhere in the province, "then they shouldn't be on in the legislature."

Victoria-The Lakes MLA Keith Bain is the Speaker of the House. He said the Speaker 'makes all directives concerning the health and safety for everyone working at and visiting Province House.' (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Premier Tim Houston, who appointed the Speaker, also criticized Bain's decision.

"There absolutely should never be two different standards for politicians and the public," Houston tweeted on Monday, pointing out the decision was made by the Speaker's Office "on their own."

On Monday, the Speaker's office defended the decision to close the legislature to the public.

"The Speaker considered public health recommendations, the voluntary notification of a positive case, and the unique environment and responsibilities of the legislature to reach his decision," it said in a statement.

The Speaker's office is recommending anyone who has been at Province House since the spring sitting began last Thursday to get tested for COVID-19.

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With files from Jean Laroche

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