New public health measures announced

HALIFAX: With the numbers of new COVID-19 cases rising, the provincial government has introduced new public health measures.

During a media briefing today in Halifax, the province announced new province-wide requirements that limit the movement of long-term care residents outside their facilities, between November 23 and December 21.

“This is a critical time for Nova Scotians,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “We have seen more cases in the last three weeks than in the last three months. But we have learned from our experience in the first wave of COVID-19 and what we have seen in other provinces. That is why we are a taking a targeted approach now to contain the virus and stop the spread.”

Residents can only leave their facilities for medical/dental appointments. A registered designated caregiver can take a resident for a sight-seeing car ride but they cannot include additional passengers, or stops for shopping, visits, or use of drive-thrus.

A facility can continue sight-seeing outings using their vehicles, but physical distancing is required. No other passengers are permitted in the vehicle and there are no stops of any kind including use of drive-thrus.

There are now province-wide requirements for full-service restaurants and licenced establishments to collect the contact information of all patrons.

Starting on November 23, full-service restaurants and licensed establishments across the province must collect accurate contact information on each patron, including date and time of visit, name and phone number. This data must be retained for four weeks from date of visit for contact-tracing purposes. There is no end date for this requirement.

There is also additional information for people who must self-isolate when entering Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic Bubble.

There are now situations recognized as necessary travel and that not require the entire household to self-isolate, along with the traveler, as long as a strict protocol for shared spaces is followed.

This now includes: people who must travel for work that cannot be done virtually and don’t meet the criteria for rotational workers; legal custody arrangements that require parents or children to travel for visits; essential, specialized health-care treatment that is not available in Atlantic Canada;  participating in an essential legal proceeding outside Atlantic Canada when virtual attendance is not possible; and students studying outside of Atlantic Canada whose primary or family residence is in Nova Scotia.

“COVID is a social virus – it likes social contact because that’s how it spreads. COVID-19 flourishes in close-contact settings,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “That’s why we have to reduce our social circles and our gathering sizes outside of schools and the workplace. I know this will not be easy, but it’s an initial step to contain the community spread and avoid the potential to overwhelm our health-care system. It’s also why we will be testing bar staff in peninsular Halifax because they are now on the social frontlines of the pandemic and we need to keep them safe.”

A state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and extended to November 29.