Responding to rising case numbers reflecting an increase in travellers with COVID-19, Nova Scotia is banning all non-essential travel into and out of the province, effective 8am Thursday. People arriving from PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador are exempted from the ban.
Essential travel is defined as:
- people who live in Nova Scotia but their primary employment is in another province
- federally approved temporary foreign workers
- people who need to participate in-person in a legal proceeding in another province
- post-secondary students coming to study in Nova Scotia
- post-secondary students returning to their primary or family residence in Nova Scotia and parents who accompany them
- parents picking up a student in Nova Scotia to take them home as quickly as possible
- people who can demonstrate that they already have a new permanent address in Nova Scotia as of April 21 and are moving here permanently
- people traveling for child custody reasons following the child custody protocol
- people who are exempt from self-isolation following the exempt traveler protocol
- people traveling between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for work, school or children in child care, following conditions in the protocol for travel between these provinces
The ban is in place until May 20, but could be extended.
“We are also going to be allowing fewer compassionate exceptions during this four week period,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at today’s COVID briefing. “This means that people will not be allowed to travel to Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada for funerals and only in exceptional circumstances for end of life visits.”
As well, rules on rotational workers are being tightened. “For the next four weeks, rotational workers will have to fully isolate from their family members,” said Strang. “That can be done under the appropriate protocol in the same home, but they have to fully isolate until they get their first test results back, and that test result is negative. After they have received that negative test result, they can follow the modified isolation protocol that allows them to interact with their family and be in outdoor places in the community and go to medical appointments. But that’s only after they’ve received the negative result from their first test.“
Strang to Ontarians: Frig off!
Strang said that recently there has been a 400% increase in people coming into Nova Scotia via the land border (i.e, on the Trans-Canada Highway).
“The border folks are seeing a significant increase that in the last short period of time of many, many more people coming from Ontario especially — they’re identifying as from Ontario,” explained Strang.
“We don’t have reasons why. But if you look around, we know that Nova Scotia has been seen as a place where it’s safer. Our real estate industry is benefiting from that — people coming to move here to live here. But I’m not going to speculate on why people are coming; there are many reasons, probably, for leaving Ontario. But what we do know is that there’s been a significant increase in volume and because they’re coming from areas of high of high rates of COVID, they’re a significant risk of bringing COVID into Nova Scotia. So we have to we have to stop that and only allow people that it’s essential for them to travel at this point in time.”
The new orders prohibit anyone from Ontario moving to Nova Scotia unless they already own a house here.
“So that means that if you purchased the place before April 21st, you can come here,” said Strang. “But we’re telling people that now is not the time to be looking to purchase something in Nova Scotia for the next four weeks and anticipate you can move here. You have to have purchased your new permanent residence in Nova Scotia before April 21st.”
I asked Strang if the same rules apply to, say, someone who got a job in Nova Scotia and is moving here hoping to lease an apartment.
“Well, I think this is a four week period,” he replied. “We have to work out some of the details. With all of the things we put in place, there is the capacity for people to make an appeal. But in general, what we’re saying that we need to slow down the flow of people that are coming here.“
Strang said there are several COVID clusters in HRM — in Sackville, Halifax, Dartmouth, and Lawrencetown.
“One of our current clusters was the result of family and friends gathering with people who had recently come from Ontario,” said Strang.
“It’s been reported that there were people from Ontario who obviously were not quarantining because they were at this social event in the community, which has now led to a number of cases. So that’s all it takes is one case, people not quarantining, but also Nova Scotians, those who chose to eat and socialize with people who they should have known should have should have been under quarantine. So it’s both the people quarantining, but also the Nova Scotians.”
Hockey is essential?
I also asked Strang if the ban on non-essential travel means that the International Women’s Hockey tournament scheduled for Halifax will be cancelled. He replied:
So I work closely with that. They have a very strict protocol. And essentially, if they come here, they will be in a bubble that they will have no interaction with Nova Scotians because they have very clear protocols about individuals and teams and even the whole tournament. Once they’re out of their quarantine, they will still be not interacting with Nova Scotians. So that tournament does not, in my opinion, does not present a risk of transmitting or bringing COVID and then transmitting it into Nova Scotia, with all the very strict protocols they have even before they leave their home countries.
Nine new cases of COVID-19 are announced in Nova Scotia today (Tuesday, April 20).
Six of the cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone — five are close contacts of previously announced cases and one is under investiation.
The is also one case in the Eastern Zone and two in the Western Zone, all related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.
Of the new cases, one is a girl or woman under 19; four (two men, two women) are aged 20-39; three (all women) are aged 40-59; and one (a man) is 60-79.
There are now 68 known active cases in the province. Two people are in hospital with the disease, but not in ICU.
The active cases are distributed as follows:
• 14 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 11 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 7 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 1 is in the West Hants Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 18 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 2 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 is in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 5 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 5 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network in the Western Zone
Four cases are not assigned to a Community Health Network, but they are in the Central Zone.
Nova Scotia Health labs completed 2,723 tests yesterday.
Pop-up testing for asymptomatic people over 16 (results usually within 20 minutes) has been scheduled for the following sites:
Tuesday: Sackville Sports Stadium, 10:30am-5:30pm
Tuesday: Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Wednesday: Sackville Sports Stadium, noon-7:30pm
Public Health Mobile Units are available for drop-in and pre-booked appointments (symptomatic people must pre-book) for PCR tests for people of all ages (results within three days) at the following sites:
Tuesday: Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, 10am-5pm
Tuesday: Bethel Church, 5406 Rome Street, Halifax until 5pm
Wednesday: St. Peter’s Lions Club, 11am-4pm
But you can also get tested at the Nova Scotia Health labs by going here.
As of end of day yesterday, 216,018 doses of vaccine have been administered. I suspect that the Dept. of Health is incorrectly calculating percentage of the population that has been inoculated; I’ve asked for clarification, and I’ll wait for that until I post those figures.
People who are 60 or over can book an appointment for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine; people aged 55-64 can book appointments to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. You can book an appointment here.
Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average (today at 7.1) since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):
And here is the active caseload for the second wave:
Last night, Public Health issued the following potential COVID exposure advisories:
If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate while you wait for your test result.
• *LOCATION CLARIFICATION* Halifax Shopping Centre (Any store, 7001 Mumford Rd, Halifax) on April 13 between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 27.
• Superstore Lower Sackville (745 Sackville Dr, Lower Sackville) on April 17 between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 1.
• Giant Tiger Lower Sackville (720 Sackville Dr, Lower Sackville) on April 17 between 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, May 1.
Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations on the named dates and times are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.
• The Spitfire Arms Alehouse (29 Water St, Windsor) on April 15 between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 29.
• Starbucks Bayer’s Lake (84 Chain Lake Dr, Halifax) on April 15 between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 29.
Anyone who was on the following flights in the specified rows and seats should visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.
• Air Canada flight 8780 travelling on April 16 from Montreal (8 a.m.) to Halifax (10:24 a.m.). Passengers in rows 23-27 seats C, D and F are asked to immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 30.
• Air Canada flight 8782 travelling on April 16 from Montreal (7:45 p.m.) to Halifax (9:30 p.m.). Passengers in rows 20-26 seats A, C and D are asked to immediately visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 30.
Here is the updated potential COVID exposure advisory map:
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