Why are people ignoring clear public health rules?

It’s hard to fathom what is going through the heads of some people who continue to brazenly disregard public health rules around Nova Scotia.

As is the case in places like the Annapolis Valley, the South Shore and the Halifax Regional Municipality – where people and groups have been charged and fined for violating the Health Protection Act – the Strait area has not been immune from this behaviour.

Richmond County District RCMP charged two men, ages 48 and 55, with violating the Health Protection Act. The men were also each fined $2,000 plus a victim surcharge of $422, Nova Scotia RCMP Cpl. Chris Marshall told The Reporter.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. on May 3, police said they were told two men had arrived from outside Nova Scotia and were failing to self-isolate.

Marshall said a member of the public made a complaint to police about the men, who were later located by officers at a business in St. Peter’s.

This prompted an investigation through which the police established that the two men were failing to self-isolate and both were charged under the Health Protection Act.

A woman from New Brunswick was charged and fined after the RCMP determined that she was in the province illegally.

On May 15 at around 6 p.m. Richmond County RCMP said they stopped a vehicle for speeding on Highway 104 near River Bourgeois.

The RCMP confirmed that officers discovered that the 41-year-old female driver was from New Brunswick, and during her vacation, was travelling to visit family in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Marshall said the woman did not apply to enter Nova Scotia and was in the province without authorization.

As a result, the woman was fined $2,422 under the Health Protection Act and was told to immediately return to New Brunswick, Marshall noted.

To enter Nova Scotia under current public health restrictions, applicants have to register online with Safe Travel Nova Scotia, the RCMP said.

The RCMP notified the province after this incident, and it is now up to provincial officials to investigate how the woman was able to enter the province, Marshall stated.

Inverness County District RCMP charged two people they were unable to contact during their self-isolation for violating Nova Scotia’s Health Protection Act.

At approximately 2:35 p.m. on May 5, police said they were notified that two people, who had recently entered Nova Scotia, were not answering their phone when compliance officers called to check on them during their self-isolation period. Police said they attended the residence at 5:45 p.m. and found that no one was home. The RCMP said they returned at 6:50 p.m. and found there was no one home.

On May 6, at 11:55 a.m., police said they returned to the residence for a third time and found both people were home. Police said they spoke with them, and neither provided a reasonable explanation for not complying with their self-isolation requirements.

The RCMP charged both the man and woman for failing to self-isolate, with a fine amount of $2,422.00.

Then at approximately 6:30 p.m. on May 10, police conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that had been speeding on the Cabot Trail in St. Joseph Du Moine.

Upon speaking with the driver, the RCMP said they learned that the man was from Halifax and had been travelling to Cape Breton to hike the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Police charged and fined the man $2,422 under the Health Protection Act for non-essential travel outside of the municipality where the man primarily resides.

If these incidents had taken place at a time when the province was recording new COVID-19 cases in the 20 or less range, perhaps these actions would be more palatable, but coming in the middle of a third wave when Nova Scotia saw new cases over the 200 per day range, there are no excuses for this.

The public health rules, although strict, annoying and frustrating, are necessary and must be followed, with only rare exceptions.

These exceptions do not include hiking, visiting family, shopping, or anything else that can be held off for another day, or done closer to home, until the numbers decline, and some rules are loosened.

And in the name of public health, these rules must be taken seriously, not ignored when provincial officials follow-up with phone calls, or when people required to fully isolate instead choose not to stay home.

Whether intentional or not, these infractions demonstrate a complete lack of regard for other people, for public health, and more so, for those closest to them.

While there are some grey areas in interpretation, overall, these public health measures are very clear, they have been publicized and disseminated around the province, and discussed and analyzed at length in the past year.

If Nova Scotia is going to have any kind of summer, the public has to continue practicing good hygiene, wearing face masks in public, maintaining three metres distance, getting tested if potentially exposed to the virus, getting vaccinated as soon as possible, and isolating if they experience any symptoms.

No one likes these rules, but they can provide a road map to get out of this mess, then gradually work toward some normalcy once the vast majority of the population receives its second vaccination.