Nova Scotia

New pop-up shelters coming for Halifax amid COVID-19 spread

An organizer with the Out of the Cold shelter in Halifax confirms the province has authorized the creation of two new pop-up shelters with a third one anticipated. The move will allow proper physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

'We have these tents set up inside so everybody is in their own little pod,' says organizer

An organizer with the Out of the Cold shelter in Halifax says the province has authorized the creation of two new pop-up shelters with a third one expected to open next week. They will allow for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Out of the Cold/Facebook)

An organizer with the Out of the Cold shelter in Halifax confirms the province has authorized the creation of two new pop-up shelters with a third one anticipated.

The move will allow proper physical distancing during the pandemic.

Jeff Karabanow, the co-founder, said the additional shelters mean the Out of the Cold site at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre is being used by 10 people instead of 40.

"We have these tents set up inside so everybody is in their own little pod," said Karabanow. "And all the shelters are lowering their capacity [in order] to create safer and healthier spaces."

Karabanow said anyone with a compromised immune system who would usually use a shelter has been placed in a motel or hotel room.

With libraries and coffee shops closed, shelter officials said street people had been using the free transit system as a place to go during the day.

An email from Shelter Nova Scotia on March 23 said three outdoor toilets with hand-washing stations had to be set up in the parking lot of Metro Turning Point, a men's shelter on Barrington Street.

All the shelters are now operating around the clock instead of just overnight.

But, according to provincial spokesperson Krista Higdon, the services are not for "new referrals."

Karabanow is worried about the number of new people that could be on the streets because of the pandemic.

He said the pop-up shelters are a good first phase but, as the pandemic drags on, more will need to be done.

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