COVID Restrictions Beefed Up for Christmas
The province announced new COVID initiatives today intended specifically for the Christmas season.
Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, announced the current restrictions in areas of Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and Hants County are extended, and new restrictions will be in place province-wide over the holidays to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The restrictions include:
- the current restrictions in areas of Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County are extended until December 20
- dine-in service at restaurants and licensed establishments in these areas is extended until January 10; they can continue takeout and delivery service
- the Halifax casino will remains closed until January 10
Premier Stephen McNeil says, “We know the holidays are traditionally a time for a lot of socializing with family and friends, but we also know that gatherings can allow the virus to spread rapidly. We ask Nova Scotians to find new ways of celebrating this season while respecting these restrictions that are designed to keep our social gatherings small and our communities safe.”
New restrictions will be in effect across the province from December 21 to Jan 10.
For gatherings and events:
- gatherings in your home can have 10 people total, including the people who live there
- people can have a close social group of 10 without physical distancing
- social events, festivals, special events, arts/cultural events and sports events are not permitted
- faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies and funeral services can have a maximum of 150 people outdoors or 50 per cent of an indoor venue's capacity, to a maximum of 100
- wedding and funeral receptions are not permitted
- restaurants and licensed establishments, outside the areas of HRM and Hants County noted above, must stop service by 10 pm and close by 11 pm
- fitness and sport and recreation facilities can open
- fitness facilities like gyms and yoga studios can operate at 50 per cent capacity and must ensure three metres distance between participants during high intensity activities
- outdoor fitness classes can operate at full capacity and must ensure three metres distance between participants during high intensity activities
- personal services such as hair salons and spas can resume providing services that can only be done if the customer removes their mask, such as facials
- retail and shopping mall rules currently in place for areas of HRM and Hants County will extend to the entire province, including operating at 25 per cent of their capacity; their food courts can remain open with public health measures in place including physical distance between tables
For sports, museums, libraries, and long-term care:
- sports practices, training and arts and culture rehearsals are limited to 25 participants without physical distancing but games, tournaments and performances are not permitted
- the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, museums and libraries can reopen at full capacity with physical distancing and other public health measures in place
- each long-term care resident can have two designated caregivers and facilities can allow a limited number of visitors
Nova Scotians are still asked to avoid unnecessary travel. There is no longer a recommendation specifically around travel into and out of areas of HRM and Hants County.
Dr. Strang says, “We want to let people have their holiday with loved ones but this holiday needs to be different to keep everybody safe.” He added, “We need to keep gatherings small, pull back on our social activity, and avoid crowds in the retail sector so that we don't give this virus the opportunity to spread.”
The Department of Business is giving the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia up to $100,000 for a pilot project to build an app that dine-in restaurants and licensed establishments can use to collect patrons' contact information for contact tracing.
This will help standardize collection practices, ensure privacy of information, and reduce the burden on businesses. It will also improve public health's ability to contact patrons as needed.
A complete list of affected communities in HRM and Hants County is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/county-restrictions/.
The details of the holiday guidance is available at https://novascotia.ca/protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus/holidays/.
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