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Provinces eases up public health restrictions

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Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, announced today, Feb. 5, that public health restrictions will be eased effective Monday, Feb. 8 to allow events and other gatherings.

“We have been seeing a low number of new cases daily and that allows us to ease some restrictions, while keeping public health measures like wearing masks and distancing in place,” said McNeil via a press release. “I thank Nova Scotians for their patience and their vigilance in following public health guidelines.”

Effective 12 a.m. Feb. 8 until 11:59 p.m. March 7:

— retail businesses can operate at 75 per cent capacity

— fitness facilities can operate at 75 per cent capacity and must maintain three metres between people during high-intensity activities both indoors and outdoors

— recognized businesses and organizations can resume hosting events with 150 people outdoors, or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity to a maximum of 100 indoors

— these events must stop any food or alcohol service by 10 p.m. and end by 11 p.m.

— events include social events, arts and culture events, sport and recreation events, special events, festivals, faith gatherings, weddings with receptions, and funerals with visitation and receptions, and events like bingo, darts and other similar activities hosted by licensed and unlicensed establishments

— these gathering limits also apply to meetings and training hosted by private businesses or organizations, provincial and municipal government, first responder organizations, mental health and addictions support groups, and organized clubs

— organized clubs can host activities for all ages and follow the day camp guidelines to have cohorts of up to 15 within the larger indoor or outdoor gathering limit

— spectators are allowed at events, including sports games and practices and arts and culture rehearsals and performances, except when they are held at schools

— large facilities that already have approved plans can resume hosting events with multiple groups of 100 that are kept separate with their own entrances and exits and their own washrooms

“As we start to be more social again with events, it’s important for Nova Scotians to continue all the layers of protection – wash hands, wear masks, practise physical distance, stay home when you’re sick, and get tested,” said Dr. Strang. “In addition, everyone should make asymptomatic testing part of their regular routine to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially people with a lot of contacts.”

The general gathering limit remains 10 – this applies to household and informal gatherings and events that are not hosted by a recognized business or organization.

There is no change to hours for restaurants and licensed establishments. They must stop service at 10 p.m. and close at 11 p.m. There will be no exceptions to close later when there are special sports events, such as Super Bowl. These hours also apply to all types of gatherings hosted by recognized businesses and organizations as appropriate.

Sports teams and individual competitors are still restricted to playing and competing with other teams and people with whom they routinely play or compete.