Nova Scotia

N.S. opens to Newfoundland and Labrador, other COVID-19 restrictions eased

People in Newfoundland and Labrador will soon be able to enter Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin announced on Tuesday.

All Atlantic Canadians will now be able to enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, announced people travelling from Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to come to Nova Scotia without self-isolating as of Wednesday. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

People in Newfoundland and Labrador will soon be able to enter Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin announced on Tuesday.

"We're confident that the low case numbers make it possible to remove this measure," Rankin said during a COVID-19 news briefing. As of Tuesday, Newfoundland and Labrador had three active cases.

With this change, all Atlantic Canadians will now be able to enter Nova Scotia without the need to quarantine for 14 days. However, travel restrictions for entering New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador are still in place.

Rankin, who made the announcement alongside Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said the province is continuing to watch New Brunswick "very closely." That province is experiencing an outbreak and had 162 active cases as of Tuesday.

"If Dr. Strang decides it's necessary, we will shut that border down," he said, adding that non-essential travel to the Edmundston, N.B., area is not recommended.

Last month, the Council of Atlantic Premiers announced it planned to open up the Altantic bubble, which permits residents from the four Atlantic provinces to travel freely between them, by April 19.

Rankin said Tuesday that is still the plan, but he is watching the neighbouring provinces closely.

Currently, anyone entering Newfoundland and Labrador from outside the province must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. 

The rules in New Brunswick and P.E.I are more strict. People from outside New Brunswick are not permitted to enter the province unless it's for work, medical reasons, getting essential supplies for some communities, or for child custody or compassionate reasons, if approved by Public Health. New Brunswickers are allowed to re-enter the province if they leave, but must self-isolate for 14 days and register under the New Brunswick Travel Registration Program.

Non-residents of P.E.I. must apply in advance to travel to the Island, while Islanders returning from travel must self-isolate for 14 days.

Other restrictions eased

Nova Scotia's decision relating to Newfoundland and Labrador, along with other eased restrictions announced Tuesday, will take effect Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Rankin said malls, retail business and fitness facilities can also return to operating at 100 per cent capacity on Wednesday, with physical distancing.

And sports practices, training and games, along with arts and culture rehearsals and performances can now have 75 people. Rankin said while physical distancing and masks are not required for these activities, they are recommended when possible.

Spectators can continue to attend these events except when they're held at schools, Rankin said.

"Thanks to your hard work, we're able to keep our cases low and we're able to open up a bit more," he said. "But again, we'll monitor this very closely and be nimble as we have been and shut down when we need to."

Vaccine update

As of Tuesday, people age 55 to 64 are now able to book an appointment for the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at 54 participating clinics and pharmacies in the province. Anyone eligible for the vaccine must book an appointment in advance.

Dr. Strang said 38,000 appointments opened up and there were "a number of people booking" early Tuesday morning when they became available.

Strang urged Nova Scotians to be patient and continue to follow health protocols as they wait for an appointment. He said the province has been "cautious" in its decisions with the vaccine program in order to provide more certainty to Nova Scotians as the current vaccine supply remains changeable.

He said the province only releases appointments once supply has been confirmed and works within a two-week schedule between confirmation of supply and actual use of the vaccine to ensure they wouldn't have to cancel appointments if there are shipment delays.

"Another province had to cancel thousands of appointments because of a shipment delay. We do not want to find ourselves in that position," Strang said.

During the briefing, Rankin said 10,000 people were vaccinated over the Easter weekend and he expects 40,000 people to be vaccinated this week.

He also said the first African Nova Scotian community immunization clinic is opening up at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Upper Hammonds Plains for people over the age of 55 on Wednesday.

As of Monday, 116,436 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 29,677 second doses. 

6 new cases, 4 new variant cases

Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. There are now 36 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Five of the new cases are in the central health zone. One is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada, while three are close contacts of a previously reported case. One case is under investigation.

There is also one new case in the eastern health zone that is the close contact of a previously reported case.

The province has also identified four new cases of the COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. The cases, which are now resolved, were in the central health zone. Two were close contacts of previous cases and two were related to international travel.

There is no sign of community spread from the variant cases. There has been a total of 22 cases of that variant found in Nova Scotia so far, along with 10 cases of the variant first identified in South Africa.

Tuesday evening, Nova Scotia Health issued one new potential exposure to COVID-19. Anyone who was on the following flight is asked to book a COVID-19 test on the self-assessment website or by contacting 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms. 

  • WestJet Flight 232, from Calgary on April 2 (9:30 a.m.) arriving in Halifax (5:30 p.m.), Passengers in rows 13-19, seats A, B, C and D.  Anyone exposed may develop symptoms through April 19.

Passengers outside of the specified rows should continue to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

  • New Brunswick reported three new cases on Tuesday for a total of 162 known active cases. Eighteen people are in the hospital related to the virus, with 12 in intensive care.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Tuesday. The province had three known active cases. 
  • P.E.I. reported no new cases on Thursday. There are eight known active cases on the Island.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Cooke

Reporter/editor

Alex is a reporter living in Halifax. Send her story ideas at alex.cooke@cbc.ca.

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