Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia to reopen beaches, golf courses and allow 2-family bubbles

The province introduced a bubble for immediate family, which would let two households come together without physical distancing. Public beaches and golf courses will be able to reopen as early as Saturday at 8 a.m. AT.

Announcement marks second phase of the province easing COVID-19 restrictions

Public beaches in Nova Scotia will be able to reopen as early as Saturday at 8 a.m. AT, but physical distancing will need to be observed and groups can be no larger than five people. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Nova Scotia is easing more of its COVID-19 restrictions ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend.

The province introduced a two-household bubble, which would allow people between two homes to get together without physically distancing.

While the province initially said the two-household bubble could only be between immediate family members, Premier Stephen McNeil clarified in a tweet on Saturday that it could also be between friends.

"If you don't have immediate family to bubble with, you can choose another household to be in your immediate family bubble," McNeil said.

"Remember, whoever you choose, family or friend, your two households will have to promise to be be mutually exclusive & you can only bubble with each other."

"You will have to figure out who and you will have to promise you will be mutually exclusive," Premier Stephen McNeil said during a press briefing on Friday.

"We want to reconnect families, but we can't put anyone at risk. We need you to do it safely."

McNeil said an essential service worker surrounded by others at work should continue physically distancing from older parents. But he said others who have been self-distancing would be a better fit to be part of the two-household bubble.

Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said it's important people understand that two-bubble households do not mean that families can get together in large groups for barbecues and reunions.

Strang said it's important to take it slow and make wise choices. He said age, occupation and health conditions are factors to consider.

"Is anyone at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 infection? If people are 65 or older, especially if they have underlying health conditions, or if they're people regardless of age with significant chronic disease or are immunocompromised, those people need to be much more careful about who they connect to," Strang said.

Beaches, golf and sailing

Public beaches will be able to reopen as early as Saturday at 8 a.m. AT, but physical distancing will need to be observed and groups can be no larger than five people.

Archery, equestrian, golf, paddling, sailing, boating and tennis can resume at outdoor facilities as of Saturday at 8 a.m. provided social distancing, environmental cleaning and participant hygiene can be maintained. 

But organized coaching or training, competitions, tournaments, regattas or similar events are not permitted

Additional outdoor activities permitted during COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. (Nova Scotia Government)

The provincewide ban on open fires has been extended until June 1 at 11:59 p.m. The use of backyard appliances like chimineas and fire pits will be temporarily permitted for households. The fire ban does not apply to private campgrounds.

The province said it's working on a phased plan to lift more public health restrictions, but there's no set timeline as it will depend on local data and consultation.

Strang said the province will tighten restrictions again if the virus numbers go up.

Golf courses are allowed to reopen on Saturday at 8 a.m. AT. (Getty Images)

There is still no firm date on when Nova Scotia will reopen its economy, but McNeil said the goal is to do it in early June.

He said it depends on "how people handle what we have announced today, including the family bubble."

4 more deaths, 8 new cases 

The province also announced Friday that four more people have died at Halifax's Northwood long-term care facility.

The four new deaths bring Nova Scotia's total to 55, with 49 of those happening at Northwood.

Eight new COVID-19 cases were also identified on Thursday, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 1,034. To date, the province has had 35,375 negative test results.

The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 473 tests on Thursday.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority COVID-19 Map for Friday, May 15, 2020. (Nova Scotia Health Authority)

There are three licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors facilities in Nova Scotia with active cases.

Northwood in Halifax has 25 residents and 15 staff with active cases. One other facility has one staff member with an active case of COVID-19 and a third facility has one resident with an active case.

Nine people are in hospital with five in intensive care. There are 918 cases listed as recovered.

The province is renewing the state of emergency for two more weeks. The order will take effect at noon on Sunday and run until May 31 unless the government terminates or extends it.

Symptoms to look for

As of Tuesday, the province had 34,604 negative test results. The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 502 tests on Tuesday.

The province recently expanded the list of symptoms being screened for COVID-19. They are:

  • Fever.
  • New or worsening cough.
  • Sore throat.
  • Runny nose.
  • Headache.

Anyone with two or more of those symptoms should visit 811's website for a self-assessment questionnaire to determine if 811 should be called for further assessment.