All N.S. schools, non-essential stores to close for 2 weeks as entire province locks down
Province in 'critical race' between vaccines and variants, premier says
Nova Scotia will enter a provincewide lockdown for two weeks starting tomorrow as a "circuit-breaker" measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, the premier and chief medical officer of health said Tuesday.
As of 8 a.m. AT on Wednesday until at least May 12, the following restrictions are in place:
- Nova Scotians can only gather indoors or outdoors with people in their household bubble.
- Households of one or two people can socialize with one or two others but they must be the same people for this period.
- All public and private schools are closed.
- Retail stores are closed for in-person service unless they provide services essential to the life, health or personal safety of individuals and animals.
- Restaurants and bars are closed for dine-in service, but contactless take-out or delivery is allowed.
- Personal services such as hair salons, barber shops and spas are closed.
- Regulated and unregulated health professions can remain open with an approved COVID-19 plan.
- Casino Nova Scotia locations in Halifax and Sydney and First Nations gaming establishments must close.
- Daycares will remain open, but all staff and children over age two must be masked, indoors and outdoors at all times, when not eating or drinking.
- Long-term care homes are also closed across Nova Scotia to all visitors and volunteers besides designated caregivers.
- Indoor fitness facilities must be closed, but outdoor recreation activities are allowed.
- Outdoor fitness and recreation businesses and organized clubs can operate with a maximum of five people and physical distancing.
There are also new restrictions on events and recreation, including no sports events or faith gatherings. However, mental health and addictions support groups can continue to meet with a maximum of 10 people, physically distanced with masks.
Stores selling essential items such as food, pharmaceuticals, hardware and pet supplies can remain open at 25 per cent capacity. Gas stations, garages, computer and electronic repair shops and stores selling electronics and office supplies along with Nova Scotia Liquor Commission stores can also remain open at 25 per cent capacity.
Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announced the details during a briefing on Tuesday at 4 p.m. AT.
Spreading faster than ever
Variants of the virus are spreading through the province faster than ever before, Rankin said.
While the Halifax Regional Municipality and surrounding area have been seeing community spread for weeks, Rankin noted that a cluster of cases in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality continues to grow.
"We are in a critical race between the vaccine rollout and the variant, and right now the variant is winning," Rankin said.
Residents across Nova Scotia have already been asked to stay in their own communities to curb virus's spread. Rankin added that people should stay as close to home as possible.
Late Tuesday evening, the province announced potential COVID-19 exposures in all four health zones.
Ninety of Tuesday's 96 new cases are in the central zone, two are in the western zone and one is in the northern zone. Three are in the eastern zone, one of which is at Sydney Academy in Sydney.
The new cases bring the total known active caseload to 419.
The province also reported a new case connected to a school on Tuesday evening, though it wasn't clear if that person, at the Strait Area Education Recreation Centre in Port Hawkesbury, was included in the earlier count.
Public Health said it will contact anyone who was a close contact of that person, who tested positive. They will be asked to get tested and to self-isolate for 14 days.
Another of Tuesday's cases in the central zone is a staff member at Clarmar Residential Care Facility, a residential care home in Dartmouth. All the residents in that facility have been fully vaccinated, according to a news release from the province.
A staff member at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax has also tested positive for COVID-19, the organization said Tuesday. That facility has closed to all visitors, including designated caregivers.
WATCH | Nova Scotia enters province-wide lockdown:
Eleven people are now in hospital, including three who are in the intensive care unit.
Strang noted Tuesday that more than 20,000 Nova Scotians were tested using both rapid and regular PCR tests on Monday, making Nova Scotia the province with the most testing per capita in the country.
On Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canadian Forces would deploy 60 people to help at COVID-19 testing centres in the province.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases Tuesday. There are 28 active cases and one person is in hospital with the virus.
- New Brunswick reported 24 new cases on Tuesday. There are 137 known active cases. Six people are in hospital, including two in intensive care.
- P.E.I. announced two new cases on Monday for a total of 11 active cases. No one is currently hospitalized.