HALIFAX: The province is asking stakeholders of large sports venues in the province to submit re-opening plans to public health officials.

During a press briefing on August 26 in Halifax, Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, announced the loosening of more public health restrictions introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“We now have reached some agreements with a few facilities that’ll allow us to further re-open Nova Scotia,” Dr. Strang said. “We are taking a cautious approach regarding the hosting of events that support both economic activity but also is guided by an appropriate level of public protection given our current epidemiology.”

The province said it is working with four venues – Centre 200, Scotiabank Centre, Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish County and Scotia Speedworld – on opportunities to host larger audiences than current gathering limits allow.

“These four are able to expand their gatherings because they’re hosting large events as their core business,” Dr. Strang noted. “They’re able to manage the stringent public health criteria and they have the physical infrastructure in their facility to accommodate safely these larger gathering sizes.”

These four facilities will be able have a total audience that includes multiple groups of 200 people for indoor events and of 250 people for outdoor events, but only if they meet strict criteria and have an approved, detailed plan. The plan must include how they intend to keep each group separate in its own bubble at the venue.

“Each of those groups must remain separate from each other, and as I’ve been working with these facilities, I’ve said they have to separated from line-up, to entry, to concession, to washrooms, to exit,” Dr. Strang explained. “That’s why there’s only a small number of facilities that have that ability.”

Each facility must submit a detailed plan for review and approval, and each plan must explain how their plans will meet public health guidelines.

“We’re in the process of reviewing these plans right now,” added Dr. Strang.

If the province gives their thumbs-up, public health officials will be conducting inspections while the events are taking place.