Nova Scotia will be tightening the border with New Brunswick, effective Saturday.
As of 8 a.m. Saturday, anyone coming into the province from New Brunswick must complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form before arriving and self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
“What we are saying is, do not go to New Brunswick, and New Brunswickers, do not come here, unless it is for essential purposes,” said Premier Stephen McNeil during Friday’s news conference.
Nova Scotians returning from New Brunswick must also self-isolate for 14 days, unless they are exempt from the order.
Any Nova Scotian who has returned from New Brunswick in the last two weeks is asked to self-isolate immediately and go online and book a COVID-19 test, even if they don’t have symptoms.
The tightened border restrictions were announced following a surge of cases in New Brunswick this week, with the province reporting a single-day record of 31 new cases on Wednesday.
Nova Scotia reported only two new cases on Friday.
“Our case numbers are improving in Nova Scotia and we want to keep it that way,” added McNeil. “Given the sharp rise in cases in New Brunswick, we are taking the step of tightening our border to limit opportunities for the virus to spread.”
The public health order exempts some people from self-isolation if they do not have symptoms:
certain workers who must travel for their jobs, including people who routinely cross the land border for work
people who are dropping off or picking up a child within about 24 hours as part of a legal custody agreement
people travelling to and from essential health services, with one accompanying support person
people can participate in a legal proceeding but must otherwise self-isolate
“While our case numbers are improving, we are not out of the woods yet, especially given the risk of importing cases through travel from other jurisdictions,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “We continue to ask people not to travel unless it’s necessary, follow all the public health measures, and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms, to help protect your families, friends and communities.”
Travel into the province from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador is still permitted, and residents do not have to self-isolate, provided they drive straight through New Brunswick to Nova Scotia with no, or minimal stops.
SCHOOLS TO REOPEN MONDAY
Schools in Nova Scotia will reopen on Monday as scheduled.
Sports and arts activities involving multiple schools will not resume at this time. Community use of school gyms for sport and physical activity can resume, as long as provincial guidelines are followed.
The province also announced new guidelines for schools, which will allow for increased access to music education, allowing singing and playing instruments.
RETAIL CAPACITY INCREASED, CASINOS ALLOWED TO REOPEN
Retail establishments in Nova Scotia will now be able to increase their capacity to 50 per cent of their usual, up from 25 per cent.
“All the other COVID protocols that are in place in stores have to be maintained. That seems to me to be a very low-risk way to allow them to accommodate some more business. They were very tightly restricted over the holidays with significant impacts, but in my mind, it is not introducing a significant increase of COVID spread,” said Strang.
As well, the Halifax casino, VLTs and First Nations gaming establishments can reopen in areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County.
TWO NEW CASES
Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. With one previously-reported case now considered recovered, the number of active cases in the province has increased to 29.
One case is in the province’s Central Zone and the other case is in the Eastern Zone. Both cases are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada and the individuals are self-isolating.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,831 Nova Scotia tests on Thursday.
There were 558 tests administered between Sunday and Thursday at the rapid-testing pop-up sites in Halifax.
“This week has started to paint a picture of the impact of the holiday season and what it has done related to our COVID-19 numbers but it is still early. It’s been two weeks since Christmas but just one week since New Year’s. The good news is that the numbers are still encouraging,” said Strang. “Most of our numbers are linked to other known cases or to travel outside of the province, and the number of close contacts or potential exposures continues to remain low.”