Halifax Transit announces new restrictions, possible exposure to COVID-19 on 3 routes
'These changes will significantly reduce capacity ... transit should be used for essential travel'
Halifax Transit is implementing new measures over the long weekend after the Nova Scotia Health Authority says people who took certain Halifax Transit buses last week could have been exposed to COVID-19.
In a news release Thursday, the health authority said it has learned of a "potential public exposure" to the virus on the following buses:
- April 3 on Route 10 — 5:56 p.m. to 1:04 a.m.
- April 4 on Route 62 — 12:27 p.m. to 1:33 p.m., and 4:27 p.m. to 5:33 p.m.
- April 4 on Route 60 — 1:33 p.m. to 4:27 p.m., and 5:33 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.
"When interactions are transient, such as on public transit, it's generally considered low-risk from an exposure perspective," Dr. Jennifer Cram, regional medical officer of health, said in the release.
"Sharing information about this potential exposure to COVID-19 will help us identify cases that could be connected and will support our containment efforts."
The health authority said anyone exposed to the virus on the named dates on the three bus routes may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 18.
The health authority did not specify who had tested positive for COVID-19 to prompt the warning.
Bus driver in self-isolation after COVID-19 diagnosis
However, the union representing Halifax Transit drivers said Wednesday it knows of a driver who has COVID-19 and is now self-isolating.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 president Ken Wilson said a driver called him on Wednesday afternoon to inform him of the positive test result.
The driver last worked on Saturday, according to Wilson. He reportedly felt unusually fatigued after his shift, and was experiencing muscle aches and pains, prompting him to call 811 and leading to the test.
Wilson is now calling on Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, to impose tighter load limits on buses and ferries to protect the public and transit workers.
New COVID-19 measures
On Thursday, Halifax Transit announced new measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
"These changes will significantly reduce capacity and as a result, transit should be used for essential travel only," it said in a news release.
On buses, alternating seats will be blocked off to further reduce capacity by about half.
Yellow tape that previously was at the front of the bus separating the driver from passengers will be replaced with a yellow cord. There will be signs showing seating reserved for people with mobility needs.
Passengers will continue to use rear doors to enter, unless the front doors are required for accessibility.
The ferry will only carry 25 passengers at a time. Food and drink on the ferry are prohibited.
In the coming week, alternative seating at some terminals will be blocked off with signs at some locations.
Self-monitor for symptoms
The health authority said anyone who rode the named bus routes during the specific times should self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. These include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and headache.
If you have two or more COVID-19 symptoms, call 811 for assessment. You should then self-isolate until you receive 811 advice on next steps.
Public health is directly reaching out to the close contacts of the person who was confirmed to have COVID-19. While most people have been contacted, there could be some the province does not know about.
The province added the public notifications "are not in any way a reflection on the behaviour or activities of those named in the notification."