Nova Scotia

With New Brunswick COVID surge, Nova Scotia tightens border restrictions

As of 8 a.m. on Saturday, everyone coming into the province from New Brunswick will have to quarantine for 14 days unless coming for work, a medical appointment or legal reasons.

2 new COVID-19 cases were announced on Friday in N.S.

A digital sign that says "COVID-19 is deadly. Stop the spread. Stay home" could be seen by commuters in the Halifax area during Easter 2020.
Anyone coming into Nova Scotia from New Brunswick must self-isolate for two weeks. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Nova Scotia has announced it is tightening border restrictions with New Brunswick following the outbreak of cases in that province.

As of 8 a.m. on Jan. 9, everyone coming into the province from New Brunswick will have to self-isolate for 14 days. There are exceptions for those who are crossing the border due to work, a medical appointment, child custody arrangements or legal reasons.

"What we are saying is, do not go to New Brunswick," Premier Stephen McNeil said in Friday's news conference, adding that the numbers will be monitored to determine when the restrictions can be lifted.

"I feel for New Brunswick and wish them nothing but good luck."

There has been a surge of cases in New Brunswick this week, with the province hitting a single-day record of 31 new cases on Wednesday. Twenty-four new cases were identified in New Brunswick on Thursday and 18 more on Friday.

Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I. and New Brunswick have all imposed isolation rules for all out-of-province travellers since the Atlantic bubble burst in November.

People coming from New Brunswick must fill out an online check-in form before arriving in Nova Scotia.

McNeil said the land border would look similar to the first wave, where there is a separate line for essential service providers. Everyone else will be required to stop and identify where they are going.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said on Friday that people coming from P.E.I. and N.L. do not have to isolate when they come to Nova Scotia.

For those coming to Nova Scotia from P.E.I. via New Brunswick, he said they must drive straight through.

"You need to drive directly. Do not stop for food or gas in New Brunswick," Strang said.

Nova Scotians who have had visitors from New Brunswick in the last 14 days should get tested immediately, Strang said. Those people should also consider a second test 5 to 7 days later.

Any Nova Scotians who visited New Brunswick in the past two weeks should also get tested and they must self-isolate while they await their first test result. Those who had visitors from New Brunswick do not have to quarantine while they wait for their result.

Any specialized workers from New Brunswick doing "critical urgent work" that cannot be done by anyone from the other Atlantic provinces can enter Nova Scotia to do their work, but otherwise must self-isolate.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID-19 update on Jan. 8, 2021. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Most restrictions remain in place until Jan. 24

The province is also renewing its state of emergency starting at noon on Jan. 10 and lasting until noon on Jan. 24. Most of the current province-wide restrictions will remain in place for another two weeks.

"Keeping things as they are for at least two more weeks will really give us a chance to see the impact of the holidays," Strang said adding they will continue to be cautious throughout January.

These include:

  • Gathering limits of 10 in your home and in the community.
  • Restaurants and bars stopping service by 10 p.m. and closing by 11 p.m.
  • Fitness facilities must operate at 50 per cent capacity and must have three metres between people for high-intensity activities, including indoor and outdoor fitness classes.
  • There is a maximum of 25 people for sports practices and arts rehearsals. Games, tournaments or performances are not permitted.
  • Social events, festivals, arts and cultural events and sports events are not allowed.
  • Faith gatherings, weddings and funerals can have 150 people outdoors and 50 per cent of an indoor venue's capacity to a maximum of 100. Wedding and funeral receptions are not permitted.

There are also some easing of restrictions:

  • Retail businesses and malls may increase the number of customers to 50 per cent from 25 per cent capacity.
  • The Halifax casino, VLTs and First Nations gaming establishments can reopen.
  • The Halifax and Sydney casinos must follow the guidelines for licensed establishments, which includes stopping service by 10 p.m. and closing by 11 p.m. The First Nations establishments can open their regular hours since they are not licensed to serve alcohol.

Strang also reminded people about the importance of wearing masks when three metres of distance cannot be maintained, including in outdoor spaces.

He also said that applies to people who receive home care and anyone else in the home who is in close proximity to the home care worker. 

2 new cases on Friday

Nova Scotia is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

One case is in the eastern health zone and the other in the central zone. Both cases are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada and the people are self-isolating.

There are now 29 active cases in the province. No one is in hospital in Nova Scotia related to the virus.

Strang said on Friday that there is no sign of the COVID-19 variant appearing in Nova Scotia, but one case was sent off for testing. He said travel-related cases will automatically be tested for the variant.

Nova Scotia labs completed 1,831 tests on Thursday.

Between Jan. 3-7, there were 558 rapid tests administered at pop-up sites in Halifax.

New guidelines for music education come into effect in Nova Scotia on Monday. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News)

Public schools to reopen as planned

Schools in Nova Scotia will reopen on Monday. The evening use of school gyms for sport and community activities can resume, as long as public health orders are followed.

As well starting Monday, there will be new guidelines for music education that will allow singing and playing instruments in a modified way.

Strang said that includes making sure physical distancing is in place, limiting the time playing and the number of students in class.

He said people raised legitimate concerns about sports and arts being allowed, but not music.

But Strang said any sports or arts activities that involve connections between schools are not resuming right now.

Class return delayed at St. F.X.

The province is also urging post-secondary students who have returned to Nova Scotia from outside of the Atlantic provinces to book a COVID-19 test on the sixth, seventh or eighth day of their isolation, regardless if they have symptoms.

Strang said two positive COVID cases have already been found through this testing stream, which highlights its importance.

St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish has issued a revised plan for the return to in-person classes in the wake of the new border quarantine regulations.

The university's website says the start of in-person classes has been delayed to Jan. 25 to allow returning students from New Brunswick time to complete their 14-day quarantine.

Students from New Brunswick who will be living on campus are required to return to St. F.X. no later than 8 p.m. on Jan. 10.

They will be issued with a red wristband at the Keating Centre to indicate that they are isolating before they are allowed to go to their residence.

The university website says returning students from N.B. who plan to live off-campus are also expected to be in Antigonish by Jan.10. They will not be allowed to return to campus until they have completed their isolation period.

Returning St. F.X. students from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island are not required to isolate and are being told not to return to Antigonish until Jan. 24 to "limit their exposure in the community."

Students attending other schools coming from New Brunswick should check with their school about any potential changes in residence accommodations related to self-isolation.

A technician places rapid COVID-19 swabs into a test tube container on Nov. 24 at Dalhousie University in Halifax. There are currently 29 active cases in the province. (Robert Short/CBC)

The appointments can be booked up to three days in advance.

Students must have self-isolated for the full two weeks even with a negative test result. They may not attend in-person classes until they have completed their isolation.

Any students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 need to complete a self-assessment online or call 811.

No cases at Jamieson Hall

Shannex reported no new cases at Jamieson Hall, an assisted-living community in Dartmouth, N.S., after an outbreak last month.

"We are pleased to report that all resident testing at Jamieson Hall conducted earlier this week has been returned negative. One employee case was reported on December 24, 2020," Shannex said in a release Friday.

Retesting has not revealed any additional cases of COVID-19 in the past 14 days, according to the release, and Public Health has directed that residents are no longer required to isolate in their suites. Visitors can return with precautions in place.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Friday. There are nine active cases and one person is in hospital.
  • New Brunswick reported 18 new cases on Friday with 143 active cases. Every zone of the province has been rolled back to the orange phase to deal with the growing number of cases.
  • P.E.I. reported one new case on Thursday and currently has eight active cases.