N.S. reveals plan for 3rd COVID-19 doses, mask mandate to continue under Phase 5
'We simply cannot remove all restrictions,' says Premier Tim Houston
Nova Scotia will offer third doses of COVID-19 vaccines to immunocompromised people and people who can't travel for work reasons because they have mixed doses, as well as booster shots to people living in long-term care, the province announced Wednesday.
The province will be following recent guidelines issued by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
For moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals, NACI is recommending the third dose be an authorized mRNA-based vaccine under the following conditions:
Active treatment for solid tumour or hematologic malignancies.
Receipt of solid-organ transplant, taking immunosuppressive therapy.
Receipt of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within two years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy).
Moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
Stage 3 or advanced untreated HIV infection and those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
Active treatment with certain immunosuppressive therapies.
The booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to people living in long-term care homes and congregate-care settings.
The province said it is offering a third dose to Nova Scotians who need to travel for work but who received two different vaccines. It said people have reported being unable to travel for work because some countries don't recognize their mixed doses.
At a briefing Wednesday, the province also announced that when Nova Scotia enters Phase 5 of its reopening on Monday, the mask mandate will remain in place.
"We simply cannot remove all restrictions," said Premier Tim Houston.
While gathering limits for formal gatherings will be dropped because participants must be fully vaccinated, informal gathering limits of 25 indoors and 50 outdoors will remain in place because the individuals involved aren't necessarily vaccinated.
Mandatory vaccinations for some sectors
All employees of Nova Scotia Health, EHS, the IWK children's hospital, long-term care facilities and home-care services are included in the mandate, along with teachers at schools and pre-primary programs, staff at regional centres for education, and education service staff including bus drivers, cleaners and lunch monitors.
There are nearly 60,000 Nova Scotians who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine but have not received a dose.
Nova Scotia's proof-of-vaccination policy will require two pieces of authentication: paper or digital proof of vaccination and proof of identity (such as a driver's licence, passport or health card).
People can use an app such as CANImmunize to show they have been fully vaccinated or use a federal app that will be rolled out Oct. 1 that generates a QR code that when scanned reveals a check mark or X.
For people who don't have a cellphone, they can use a document they can print themselves.
Staff at facilities offering non-essential activities will be required to check for proof of vaccination when people enter.
Exceptions to proof-of-vaccination requirement
There will be some exceptions to the proof-of-vaccination requirement:
- People who have a valid medical reason can get a letter from their family doctor or nurse practitioner. People who do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner can call 811 to get referred to a specialist.
- Nova Scotians who participated in COVID-19 vaccine trials — and do not know whether they received a placebo or not — have already been sent a letter they can use in lieu of showing proof of vaccination.
The province also announced specific timelines for youth as it relates to vaccinations and participating in non-essential activities:
- Children who turned 12 between Jan. 1 and Oct. 4 will have until Dec. 31 to get fully vaccinated. After that, they will not be allowed to participate in discretionary activities. Children who turn 12 after Oct. 4 will have three months from their birthday to get fully vaccinated.
- Youth who are 13 to 18, have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and participate in sport, recreation, arts and culture programming, have until Oct. 26 to get their second dose in order to continue participating in those activities.
Beginning at 8 a.m. AT, everyone coming to Nova Scotia from other provinces and territories will need to complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form. Whether they must self-isolate will depend on their vaccination status.
People who are fully vaccinated won't need to self-isolate upon arrival, but are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.
People who aren't fully vaccinated must self-isolate for seven days upon arrival and get two negative test results in Nova Scotia before they can stop isolating. These tests must be lab-based, not rapid tests.
41 new cases
Nova Scotia reported 41 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total known active caseload to 224.
Thirty-two of the new cases are in the central zone, four are in the northern zone, three are in the eastern zone and two are in the western zone.
There are now 12 people in hospital with COVID-19, including two in intensive care.
As of Wednesday, 74.6 per cent of Nova Scotians have received two vaccinations.
Labs in the province completed processing 5,720 COVID-19 tests on Tuesday.
Three schools were notified Tuesday of an exposure, including Ecole Mer et Monde in Halifax, Halifax West High School and Duc d'Anville Elementary School. The province is maintaining a list of all schools that have a COVID-19 case connected to them
Atlantic Canada case numbers
- New Brunswick reported one new death and 84 new cases on Wednesday. The province has 657 active cases and 40 people hospitalized, including 16 in intensive care.
- Newfoundland and Labrador reported 16 new cases on Wednesday. The province has 164 active cases, and seven people are in hospital.
- Prince Edward Island reported two new cases on Tuesday. The province has nine active cases.