Public health restrictions extended, arts and sports restrictions eased

Variant COVID-19 cases identified in Nova Scotia

HALIFAX: On the same day two variant strains of COVID-19 were identified, most public health restrictions were extended, while some were eased.

According to a press release issued by the provincial government on Jan. 22, some public health restrictions for sports and arts and culture organizations have been changed.

Sports teams can start playing games, but the province said spectators are not permitted and there can be no games or tournaments involving teams that would not regularly play each other.

Non-team sports can also resume competition, but without spectators and only among competitors who would regularly compete against each other, the province said.

The limit for sports practices, training and games and arts and culture rehearsals and classes will return to 50, the province said, noting that arts and culture performances can only be virtual and cannot have in-person spectators.

Residents of adult service centres and regional rehabilitation centres can resume community visits for work and volunteering, the province said.

Then on Jan. 23, the province said it will allow mental health and addictions support groups to meet in groups of up to 25 instead of 10, with social distancing. This also came into effect Monday.

On Jan. 22, the Nova Scotia Health Authority confirmed that the National Microbiology Lab identified two variant cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia; one U.K. and one South African variant, tested in December. Both of the cases were related to travel outside of Canada and were reported in the Central Zone, public health confirmed.

As part of ongoing surveillance, the province said it has been submitting samples to the National Microbiology Laboratory for sequencing since the first wave of the pandemic. The province said it has submitted all the positive samples from the first wave for sequencing and there were none that were of the U.K. or South African variant. Samples will continue to be submitted for sequencing as necessary based on case information, the province stated.

Other restrictions are continuing as the province extended the state of emergency to Feb. 7.

According to a press release issued by the province on Jan. 22, the restrictions include: a gathering limit of 10, both in the home and in the community; restaurants and licensed establishments stop service by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m.; retail businesses and malls operate at 50 per cent capacity; and fitness facilities operate at 50 per cent capacity and have three metres between people for high-intensity activities, including indoor and outdoor fitness classes.

The province said other continuing restrictions include: social events, festivals, special events, arts and cultural events and sports events are not permitted; faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies and funeral services can have 150 people outdoors or 50 per cent of an indoor venue’s capacity, to a maximum of 100; and wedding receptions and funeral receptions and visitation are not permitted.