COVID-19 Press Releases

Province Announces Mandatory Masks in Indoor Public Places

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced today, July 24, that masks will become mandatory in most indoor public places starting July 31.

“As we open our economy, our schools and our communities, we must continue to be vigilant to minimize the impact of a second wave of COVID-19,” said Premier McNeil. “Wearing a non-medical mask in most indoor public places is a key part of how we protect each other and support our local businesses so they can stay open for the long run.”

Indoor public places include:

  • retail businesses
  • shopping centres
  • personal services businesses such as hair and nail salons, spas, body art facilities, except during services that require removing a mask
  • restaurants and bars, except while people are eating or drinking
  • places of worship or faith gatherings
  • places for cultural or entertainment services or activities such as movie theatres, concerts and other performances
  • places for sports and recreational activities such as a gym, pool or indoor tennis facility, except while doing an activity where a mask cannot be worn
  • places for events such as conferences and receptions
  • municipal or provincial government locations offering services to the public
  • common areas of tourist accommodations such as lobbies, elevators and hallways
  • common areas of office buildings such as lobbies, elevators and hallways, but not private offices
  • public areas of a university or college campus, such as library or student union building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences
  • train or bus stations, ferry terminals and airports
  • Children under two are exempt, as well as children aged two to four when their caregiver cannot get them to wear a mask. People with a valid medical reason for not wearing a mask are exempt. Schools, daycares and day camps continue to follow their reopening plans.

People are asked to use their own masks. Government will help with initial supplies of masks for people who cannot bring their own.

“Nova Scotians have made a habit of all the other core public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and now it’s time to also make a habit of wearing a non-medical mask in most indoor public settings,” said Dr. Strang. “I have confidence that Nova Scotians will do the right thing and take care of each other by wearing masks in these settings.”

Students Return to School in September

Public school students across the province will return to class on Tuesday, Sept 8.

The back to school plan is supported by public health, the IWK Health Centre and education partners.

“Children need safe and supportive learning environments and that means being back in school with their peers,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Childhood Development.” Our plan supports the full, safe return of students and staff, while allowing us to adapt how students will learn if anything changes.”

Developed with survey feedback from more than 28,000 parents and students, and input from union and education partners, the plan outlines public health guidelines and enhanced safety measures for students and staff. It also includes measures to enhance student learning.

“Our current epidemiology shows that virus activity remains low in the province and education leaders have developed a plan with appropriate public health measures for returning to the classroom,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health. “I’m comfortable with our schools reopening and my public health team and I will continue to work with education leaders to keep our students, teachers and other school staff safe.”

While overall, learning at-home during the spring went well, parents said there were some challenges, like access to technology. Government has invested $4 million to secure 14,000 computers to support student learning for those with limited or no access to technology.

In September, students, families and staff can expect:Regional Centres for Education and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial will have plans to support enhanced cleaning, physical distancing and situations specific to schools in their area

  • classrooms to be reorganized to increase spacing
  • treating a class as a bubble, to minimize contact with other students
  • enhanced cleaning on school buses. All school bus riders and drivers will need to wear a mask
  • all staff and students in high school will be required to wear a mask in school spaces where social distancing is not possible, for example hallways and common areas. Students and staff do not have to wear a mask in class, unless they want to, or if they are working with a student whose individual program plan requires a mask be worn
  • regular handwashing or hand sanitizing by students and staff before entering school for classes and throughout the day
  • in-school assemblies and other large gatherings will not be permitted
  • cafeterias and school food programs will deliver food to students. Students will eat lunch at their desks
  • students will have the opportunity to engage in all subject areas, although some subject areas may look different

The plan includes contingencies if it becomes necessary to adjust based on public health advice.

Province Easing Visitor Restrictions in Long-term Care, Homes for Persons With Disabilities

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, announced today, June 10, the easing of some visitor restrictions in long-term care homes and homes for persons with disabilities .

Effective Monday, June 15, visits can resume at long-term care facilities, provided they happen outdoors and visitors stay two metres or six feet away from residents and staff.

This change also applies to homes funded by the Department of Community Services under the Homes for Special Care Act.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us but in many ways, it has been hardest on our seniors in nursing homes and those living in homes for persons with disabilities,” said Premier McNeil. “That’s why we are easing visitor restrictions while keeping many of our public health directives in place to protect our most vulnerable.”

Individual long-term care facilities and homes for persons with disabilities will communicate directly with residents and their families to arrange visits.

“I can only imagine how tough it has been for long-term care residents and participants in homes for persons with disabilities to not be able to connect with their loved ones,” said Dr. Strang. “Outdoor visits are a way to bring residents and their friends and families back together safely.”

To ensure resident and visitor safety, the following measures will be in place:

  • visits will only take place outdoors, in designated areas on the facility’s grounds
  • a maximum of two visitors may attend at one time
  • visitors must maintain physical distance of two metres or six feet
  • visitors must be screened for COVID-19 upon entry and wear a non-medical mask; anyone with symptoms will not be permitted to enter
  • visitor information must be logged, including date and time of visit to the facility
  • visitors who are self-isolating are not permitted to enter the facility or grounds
  • visits will be monitored by staff, who will escort visitors to the designated area and provide personal protective equipment if needed

Facilities will be provided with materials to support this change, including screening guidelines and staff education materials.

Guidelines to Support Safe Community Celebration of Graduates

Communities will be able to celebrate their 2020 graduates this year, provided they are led by an established organization and follow public health guidelines to ensure celebrations are safe.

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced today, June 5, an exemption under the Public Health Act order to allow community organizations, businesses or municipalities to hold celebrations to recognize graduates due to the loss of traditional graduation ceremonies.

All public high schools in Nova Scotia will recognize and honour Grade 12 graduates receiving diplomas. This will be separate from any celebrations that might be held in the community.

All non-school based, community celebrations of graduates must be held by a recognized business, municipality or community organization (like a club, association, society, volunteer group, faith-based group), and the local municipality, police and fire departments and EHS must be informed and supportive of the planned event.

“Graduation ceremonies are an important tradition not only for the students who worked so hard to get there, but for their loved ones who supported them along the way,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “The class of 2020 is moving on from high school during a unique time and while their festivities will look different this year, there are ways to celebrate safely. Congratulations to all of the graduates of 2020. I know the last few months of school looked quite a bit different, but I hope you’re proud of all you’ve accomplished.”

“Living with COVID-19 continues to be a balance for us all. Unfortunately, students leaving school this year won’t have a traditional graduation ceremony or prom,” said Dr. Strang. “We want to support communities in recognizing these students, but it’s vital these celebrations are done safely, without risking the health of participants.”

Conditions under the exemption include:

  • attendees must arrive in a vehicle
  • all passengers in the vehicle must be from a single household or household bubble
  • graduates can be out of their vehicle to do things like cross a stage or take part in a parade of graduates as long as physical distance (two metres or six feet) is maintained between all graduates while they are out of their vehicle
  • organizers must communicate clearly with attendees in advance and ensure other public health protocols, like physical distancing, are followed

A full list of the conditions and protocols under this exemption can be found at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/community-celebration-graduates .

Next Steps to Reopening the Province

This afternoon, Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced the next steps toward reopening the province.

Effective June 5th, the following businesses can open if they are ready and choose to do so and follow public health protocols to ensure physical distancing, increased cleaning and other protective measures for staff and customers:

✅ restaurants for dine-in, as well as takeout and delivery.
✅ bars, wineries, distilleries and taprooms.
✅ personal services, such as hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons and body art establishments.
✅ fitness facilities, such as gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities.
✅ veterinarians.
❎ lounges are not permitted to reopen at this time.

Other health providers can also reopen on June 5, provided they follow protocols in their colleges’ and associations’ plans, as approved by public health. These include:

✅ dentistry and other self-regulated health professions such as optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy.
✅ unregulated health professions such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

For more information, visit: https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20200527003.

One New Case of COVID-19

As of today, May 27, Nova Scotia has 1,053 confirmed cases of COVID-19. One new case was identified Tuesday, May 26.

The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 533 Nova Scotia tests on May 26 and is operating 24-hours.

There is one licensed long-term care home in Nova Scotia with active cases of COVID-19. Northwood in Halifax currently has 12 residents and four staff active cases.

The list of symptoms being screened for has recently expanded. If you have any one of the following symptoms, visit https://811.novascotia.ca to determine if you should call 811 for further assessment:

fever (i.e. chills, sweats)
cough or worsening of a previous cough
sore throat
headache
shortness of breath
muscle aches
sneezing
nasal congestion/runny nose
hoarse voice
diarrhea
unusual fatigue
loss of sense of smell or taste
red, purple or blueish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers without clear cause

To date, Nova Scotia has 39,441 negative test results, 1,053 positive COVID-19 test results and 59 deaths. Confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90. Seven individuals are currently in hospital, three of those in ICU. Nine-hundred and seventy-five individuals have now recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved. Cases have been identified in all parts of the province. A map and graphic presentation of the case data is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/data .

Public health is working to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with the confirmed cases. Those individuals who have been confirmed are being directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.

Anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 14 days. As always, any Nova Scotian who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better.

It remains important for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health order and directives – practise good hand washing and other hygiene steps, maintain a physical distance of two metres or six feet from those not in your household or family household bubble and limit planned social gatherings of people outside your household or family household bubble to no more than five.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .

Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia/ .