Plans continue to lift more public health restrictions

Some restrictions lifted for health care facilities, new symptoms added to list for COVID-19

Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang is pictured demonstrating the proper way to cough as Premier Stephen McNeil looks on during a briefing on May 20 in Halifax.

HALIFAX: The premier is promising to open up more of the province by the beginning of June, but it will not be done on a regional basis.

During a briefing on May 22 in Halifax, Premier Stephen McNeil said provincial officials continue to consult with businesses that were closed in mid-March to help them re-open in the near future.

“We’re feeling good about where we are we’re getting ready,” McNeil stated. “I have confidence in your ability to operate under these new conditions and that’s why I think we’ll be ready by early June.”

Noting that many are getting ready, McNeil pointed out that salons have been given new rules.

“The shop may look a different the next time you’re in for a haircut; the stylist may be wearing a mask, but you will be able to get your haircut soon,” the premier said.

Businesses which were not ordered to close, but opted to do so anyway, can re-open at any time.

“As long as you have a plan that complies with public health guidelines,” the premier cautioned. “Make sure your workplace, employees and customers are safe. Distance yourself, wear a mask where necessary, sanitize your work space regularly, and practice good hygiene.”

Those which have re-opened were lauded by the premier for doing it right, while those which remained open, like pharmacies and grocery stores, “did not take long” to figure out how to operate under public health protocols, he noted.

As part of the consultation process, stakeholders will first meet with chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, then Minister of Business Geoff MacLellan and his department will conduct follow-up discussions.

As more businesses open and other get ready, McNeil explained why he does not favour a phased-in approach to opening some businesses.

“As we get closer to an official opening for those who were ordered closed, I want to say to you I know it’s been difficult,” McNeil said. “It’s why we will not do a phase-in approach and leave some of you behind, as others will be allowed to open. We will welcome this economy and open it due to public health protocols at the same time.”

In response to a question whether Nova Scotia should first open regions where the numbers of COVID-19 cases have flat-lined, over areas like the Halifax Regional Municipality where new cases are identified daily and where community spread has occurred, McNeil rejected that idea.

“I have never made a decision in this job for political reasons,” McNeil responded. “I’ve always made the decision of what was right for Nova Scotia, and the politics would figure a way out, and Nova Scotians will make their decision whether I should return as their government.”

In the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Eastern Zone – covering Cape Breton and eastern Nova Scotia – there was been only one new COVID-19 case in the past month.

While visitor restrictions are in place at all Nova Scotia Health Authority facilities to help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some exceptions were added last week.

These include two support people for people receiving palliative care or medical assistance in dying; children admitted to hospital; and for labour and birth.

Also exempted will be one support person for: children in outpatient settings; patients who need assistance, including cancer care, some emergency, outpatient or critical care situations, and for discharge planning; and finally for patients with significant cognitive or physical disabilities who need an essential support person in order to receive care.

Also, the list of symptoms being screened for COVID-19 is expanding.

“This expanded symptom list is being adopted by all provinces and territories and is based on our growing knowledge of how COVID-19 can present,” said Dr. Strang. “As we move out of the first pandemic wave, it remains important to test anyone who has symptoms that could be due to COVID-19.”

Anyone with the following symptoms, is asked to visit: https://811.novascotia.ca to determine if they should call 811 for further assessment. The symptoms include: fever (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; and red, purple or blueish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers without clear cause.

Dr. Strang added that the fatigue would have to be constant and extreme.