Gathering limits increased

Restaurants, bars, pools, campgrounds can operate at 100% capacity

Pictured sharing a laugh during today's announcement in Halifax were Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil (left) and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang.

HALIFAX: With no new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia for more than two weeks, provincial officials lifted more public health measures today.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced that effective July 3, some gathering limits will increase.

“We’ve now had more than two weeks with no new cases of COVID-19, and Nova Scotians are getting back to normal activities while maintaining precautions,” said Premier McNeil. “Continuing the core measures of physical distancing and hand hygiene is how we will keep our case numbers low, especially as we increase gathering limits and welcome Atlantic Canadian visitors to Nova Scotia.”

If a recognized business or organization is planning an event outdoors, 250 people can attend with physical distancing rules in place. For an indoor event, the limit is 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 200, again with physical distancing.

Gatherings not run by a recognized business or organization, for example a family event in the backyard, are still subject to the 50-person maximum limit with physical distancing unless in a close social group of 10.

The expanded gathering limits apply to social events, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals and other cultural events, and arts and culture events like theatre performances, dance recitals, festivals and concerts. Guidelines for these types of events are available at: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/Events-theatres-and-venues-COVID-19-prevention-guidelines.pdf.

People can continue to gather in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing. People in a group are not required to be exclusive but they are strongly encouraged to maintain a consistent group. People should not gather in random or spontaneous groups of 10.

Businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing can still have no more than 10 people on their premises at a time with as much physical distancing as possible.

Restaurants and licensed liquor establishments can now operate at 100 per cent capacity and serve patrons until midnight with appropriate distancing between tables. Patrons must leave by 1 a.m. They must continue to follow their sector plans.

Private campgrounds can operate at 100 per cent capacity. They must continue to follow their sector plan.

Public pools can re-open with physical distancing for lane swimming and aquafit classes, and one or more groups of 10 for other activities based on pool size. They must follow the Nova Scotia Lifesaving Society plan for change rooms and washrooms. It will take municipalities and other public pools time to prepare for reopening.

People living in homes funded by disability support programs can resume going out into their communities, although it may take time for homes to make arrangements.

Dr. Strang now recommends that all Nova Scotians wear a non-medical mask in situations where distancing may not be able to be kept, such as in stores, on public transit, or at gatherings. The exceptions are children under two or anyone who has a medical reason for not wearing a mask.

“Re-opening our economy and society is important but it also increases risk, so it is paramount that we continue our public health measures to minimize a second wave of COVID-19,” said Dr. Strang. “That includes physical distancing as much as possible, good hand hygiene, cough etiquette, staying home if you’re sick and wearing a non-medical mask when you’re in public places like the grocery store where physical distancing is difficult.”