NS announces some easing of COVID-19 restrictions as of May 15

(Ed note: Beaches are now open, and backyard fire pits are now permitted.)


Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, announced today, May 15, the easing of some additional public health restrictions around COVID-19 to support physical and mental well-being.

“It’s been two weeks since we eased some restrictions. What we’ve all been doing is working and I thank all Nova Scotians for continuing to follow public health advice,” said Premier McNeil. “We know people need a break from being shut in. That’s why we’re easing a few more restrictions, while keeping our public health directives in place to fight the virus.”

“We’re continuing to consult and Dr. Strang will present a plan soon that will see Nova Scotia reopen slowly and safely. We need to get this right.”

Nova Scotia is introducing the immediate family bubble, allowing two immediate family households to come together without physical distancing. The families must be mutually exclusive to each other to minimize risk of COVID-19 spread. This change takes effect immediately.

“Connecting with family and friends is important for our mental health. For the last week we’ve seen low case numbers – your actions are helping to flatten the curve,” said Dr. Strang. “This is a first step to allow immediate family to gather in small groups. We’re asking you to take it slow and make informed choices. We want to reconnect families, but we can’t put anyone at risk.”

Families cannot have large family gatherings like birthday celebrations or reunions. When selecting which other family household they’ll connect with, families should to consider three factors – age, occupation and health condition of all household members.

Other restrictions being loosened include:
— archery, equestrianism, golf, paddling, sailing/boating and tennis can resume at outdoor facilities as of Saturday, May 16 at 8 a.m. provided social distancing, environmental cleaning and participant hygiene can be maintained; organized coaching or training, competitions, tournaments, regattas or similar events are not permitted
— public beaches can also reopen as of May 16 at 8 a.m.; people must stay two metres apart and not gather in groups of more than five
— the provincewide ban on open fires – those within 305 metres (1,000 feet) of woods anywhere in the province including domestic brush burning and beach fires – has been extended to Monday, June 1 at 11:59 p.m. Use of backyard appliances like chimineas and fire pits will be temporarily permitted for households. The ban does not apply to private campgrounds.

A phased plan to further lift public health restrictions is under development. It will be informed by local data and consultation, and guided by a national framework developed by chief medical officers of health. The timing of each phase will be determined by the result of the easing of restrictions.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .

If you have two or more of the following symptoms, visit https://811.novascotia.ca to determine if you should call 811 for further assessment:
— fever
— new or worsening cough
— sore throat
— runny nose
— headache

To date, Nova Scotia has 35,375 negative test results, 1,034 positive COVID-19 test results and 55 deaths. Confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90. Nine individuals are currently in hospital, five of those in ICU. Nine-hundred and eighteen individuals have now recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved. Cases have been identified in all parts of the province. A map and graphic presentation of the case data is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/data .

Quick Facts:
— testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22 and extended to May 31

Additional Resources:
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus

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