As COVID-19 numbers drop, Halifax is facing lightened restrictions. Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr Robert Strang, released a recent update announcing an increase in the number of individuals allowed to gather in a crowd. Groups of 60 people without social distancing are allowed as long as they are engaged in sports practices, games, and competitions as well as arts and culture performances and rehearsals. Outside of that change, however, prior restrictions remain in place for public gatherings.
While COVID-19 might be a more well-managed threat in Halifax today than in recent history, it is important to adhere to the restrictions described above as well as any that might already be in effect in your specific area. For many, this means continued relative isolation from friends and family in favour of solitary activities and time spent inside. This does not mean that the days must necessarily be uneventful or quiet. In fact, there are still a number of activities, both indoor and out, to occupy time during the next leg of the pandemic.
Halifax currently has a number of additional restrictions governing both indoor and outdoor activities, all of which can be viewed on the Government of Nova Scotia’s official website. In general, outdoor gatherings without social distancing are not allowed, and even outdoor gatherings with social distancing are limited to wedding ceremonies, faith gatherings, and funeral services. Outdoor solo or small household activities (up to 10 individuals) are generally permitted, however, and remain the safest option outside of staying inside and isolating from potential infection.
Individuals hoping to spend some time away from home have a variety of activities to explore in Halifax, even during the frigid winter weather. Make sure to dress for the weather and check the local forecast before heading out to ensure that you can safely explore outdoor activity options without surprise rain or snowfall.
Halifax is home to many different hiking trails for beginners and experienced athletes alike. Selecting the option appropriate to your skill level is an important first step — do not be afraid to do some research if you have not spent much time on the trails.
Good options for casual, beginner-friendly hiking include Long Lake Provincial Park, Belcher’s Marsh Park, and Frog Pond Park, the latter two measuring about one kilometre long and the former spanning for about five kilometres. Intermediate hikers might enjoy the linear rail trail or Admiral Lake Loop at the Musquodoboit Trailway or Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park’s Pennant Point Trail, a winding 11-kilometer path that stretches between three separate beaches. The last features more intense hiking, while the first two are suitable for families.
Experienced hikers have several options. This oftentimes includes more difficult trails of the options listed above, such as Musquodoboit Trailway. Crowbar Lake Wilderness Trails also contains a number of more difficult hiking paths, including a particularly breathtaking viewpoint known as the ‘Crow’s Nest’.
These are not the only hiking trails in Halifax, but they are some of the most popular and are a good starting point.
Snowboarding, skiing, and snowshoeing
Take advantage of the winter weather and spend some time snowboarding, skiing, or snowshoeing. Many ski parks and resorts are operating normally, albeit with increased safety restrictions such as mandatory mask-wearing. Ski Martock and Ski Wentworth are two mainland options accepting guests, and they both offer a variety of slopes and trails for both boarding and skiing.
While both resorts offer well-established experiences, there are a few different visitors should keep in mind. Ski Martock is a relatively small resort, boasting five ski lifts and seven trails spanning roughly 24 hectares. It also features a terrain park, a beginner bowl, a riglet park, a T-bar lift, a quad chairlift, and a Magic Carpet. Ski Wentworth is a much larger resort with more than 240 metres of vertical difference and 23 alpine trails, two terrain parks, and a half-pipe. Both resorts have their pros and cons, but Martock might be a better bet for the beginner as it is a bit smaller and less intimidating than Wentworth.
Snowshoeing is another winter activity option with the benefit of being extremely affordable. Shubenacadie Wildlife Park provides free snowshoeing, for example, and a variety of community centers located in the province offer free snowshoe rentals.
Indoor activities remain heavily restricted in Halifax, with most businesses prohibited from hosting indoor events and social distancing guidelines for faith gatherings, funeral services, and wedding ceremonies limited to 50% of a venue’s capacity (up to 100 people). If you’d rather not brave the cold weather, however, there are a number of indoor activities to keep you occupied without venturing from your home. While many of these might be familiar ground, some of them might be surprising.
While wandering through a museum in person remains a risky endeavour, it is possible to explore one nonetheless. In fact, it’s possible to travel across the world to explore the most renowned locations without leaving home.
Consider visiting the British Museum in London or exploring the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Musée d’Orsay in Paris features dozens of famous pieces of artwork from French artists who lived and worked between 1848 and 1914 and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is home to over 500 drawings, 200 paintings, and 750 personal letters from the esteemed artist. More information about these tours can be found on the museums’ respective websites.
Do some exploring and spend the day (or the week) globetrotting with the wealth of virtual museum tours currently available online.
Time online doesn’t always have to be groundbreakingly productive. In fact, sometimes, it is nice to simply lose yourself in a game and let go of daily stressors, if only for a short time. From MMORPGs to online fast paying casinos, not finding something to suit a specific taste is quite the difficult feat on the internet, with large communities blooming around everything from small niche genres to popular mainstream commercial titles.
Quarantine and self-isolating are the perfect excuses to explore new interests and try something new, and the internet has a wealth of games ready for consideration.
While building an expansive garden might be a bit difficult during the winter, it is never too early to start planning. The weather will soon thaw into the perfect season to plant, be it indoors or outdoors. Take stock of the plants that grow naturally around the area and consider what kind of design might work best with the space at hand. Note that indoor gardening is a good option for those lacking outdoor space to plant, and it is possible to create functional indoor gardens with a little bit of time and effort.
The start of 2021 might not herald an immediate end to COVID-19, but it is a chance for a new start all the same. Stay safe, engage in socially distanced activities, and consider indulging a new interest or hobby.