Nova Scotia won't look at lifting COVID-19 restrictions until at least June
'The summer is going to look somewhat different than most summers,' says Dr. Robert Strang
On the day Nova Scotia announced its second confirmed death due to COVID-19, the province's chief medical officer said it won't be until at least June before the province can look at lifting restrictions governing life in Nova Scotia.
Dr. Robert Strang said Thursday that any lift in restrictions would be gradual.
"I think people should expect that even the summer is going to look somewhat different than most summers," Strang said at a COVID-19 briefing.
On Wednesday, a woman in her 90s with underlying medical conditions died in the Cape Breton Regional Hospital as a result of complications related to COVID-19, the province said in a news release Thursday.
There are no connections between this death and the death of the first patient earlier in the week.
"I want you to know that we as a province are here for you. We will be thinking about you over this Easter weekend as you grapple with your loss," McNeil said.
"The loss of a loved one is difficult at any time, but losing a family member at a time when we are being asked to stay separated must be especially challenging," added Strang.
373 confirmed positive cases
On Thursday, the province reported 31 new positive tests, bringing the total to 373 cases. There have been 12,177 negative tests.
Strang announced new measures that affect fishers, offshore workers and temporary foreign workers. He said they will need to self-isolate for 14 days when they enter the province.
Fishers can self-isolate on their vessel provided they're able, he said.
"We recognize that they may need to dock to get supplies, but they can do that without leaving their vessel and have the supplies delivered to them," Strang said.
He said temporary foreign workers will be allowed to enter Nova Scotia, but they will need to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving. Strang said it's a requirement under the federal Quarantine Act and is now a requirement under his public health order.
The province is working with the agricultural sector and other industries, Strang said, "to develop the appropriate capacities to ensure adherence to this 14 day self-quarantine period."
McNeil said applications for the Small Business Impact Grant and the Worker Emergency Bridge Fund will open at 8 a.m. AT on Friday.
He said there is a 1-800 number that will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and all information will be on Nova Scotia's coronavirus website.
Strang said 811 is operating over the Easter weekend.
"The health-care system will be there for you if necessary, whether it's COVID-19 or some other health concern," Strang said. "But if you think you might have COVID-19, don't wait until Tuesday or Wednesday."
Restrictions about to 'get a little stricter'
As the long weekend approaches, McNeil said he expects the rules to "get a little stricter."
For example, McNeil said unless someone is providing an essential service, they'll be asked why they're coming into the province.
Camping season has been delayed and all provincial parks are closed.
"I want to also remind everyone that if you drive to go for a walk, you've gone too far. You can still walk in your neighbourhood, your kids can play in your yard, but they can't play with their friends," McNeil said.
McNeil said the 211 service is being enhanced beginning on Saturday.
"This will connect people who need assistance to the Red Cross where they can receive wellness check-ins, particularly those who are isolated and feeling lonely or afraid," McNeil said.
Ten people are in hospital and four of those people are in the intensive care unit.
So far, 82 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.
The first reported death related to the virus came earlier this week.
A woman in her 70s from Cape Breton died Monday in a hospital in the eastern zone, an area that includes Antigonish and Guysborough counties and Cape Breton.
The Health Department has said the woman had underlying health conditions.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority announced surgical services at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow would be reopening on Saturday. Services stopped on April 2 after a hospital employee tested positive for COVID-19.
Halifax Regional Police have issued 78 tickets since the province declared a state of emergency. The majority of the tickets were in relation to people being in prohibited areas under the Emergency Management Act.
Cape Breton Regional Police have issued a total of 24 tickets for violating COVID-19 orders, with 16 of the tickets being handed out this week. Most of the tickets are for not practising physical distancing.
Easter bunny only visitor allowed this weekend
In his closing remarks, McNeil said the Easter Bunny is the only visitor who should be coming to Nova Scotia homes this weekend.
"The Easter Bunny will come this weekend because we all know the Easter Bunny is an essential service," McNeil said.
He said people should not have people over for Easter dinner, not host barbecues with neighbours or friends, and people shouldn't visit grandparents to show what their kids got for Easter.
"There will be other Easters, there will be other celebrations, there will be other long weekends. This is an opportunity where we need to be by ourselves," McNeil said.
He encouraged friends and families to call one another on the phone or to video chat.
Strang also struck an optimistic tone.
"There is hope and we will recover if we focus on caring, kindness, selflessness and building up community," he said.
There will be no daily press conferences with McNeil and Strang over the Easter Weekend, but the province will issue daily news releases with updated case numbers.