On Friday, May 28, Nova Scotia announced its plan for reopening the province over the summer as vaccinations continue to ramp up.
The reopening—coming after a third-wave COVID lockdown that first began in late April—starts at Phase 1 on Wednesday, June 2 with outdoor gathering limits increased, the reopening of patios and unrestricted travel within the province.
However, people are still being asked to avoid non-essential travel into and out of Cape Breton Regional Municipality and areas of Halifax Regional Municipality. The province says a final decision will be made about travel for those areas of the province early next week, based on COVID-19 activity.
The state of emergency remains in place and there is still a potential $2,000 fine for anyone who breaks the rules.
“Our phased plan will allow us to safely enjoy summer with public health measures in place while we work at getting most of our population fully vaccinated,” said premier Iain Rankin. “Then we should be able to further ease restrictions in the fall and ease in to a new normal of living with COVID-19.”
While there are no dates projected for Phases 2 through 5, the province says each phase is expected to last “between two and five weeks as long as certain criteria are met in these areas.” The province says it’s also piloting a testing program at Halifax Stanfield International Airport and “other border testing measures are being considered.”
The province will also open all public and private schools next week with the exception of those in HRM (and some surrounding areas) and Sydney, Cape Breton.
More changes starting June 2 include:
- Nova Scotians can gather outdoors with a consistent social group of up to 10 people without physical distance
- The limit for indoor gatherings remains the people you live with; two households with one or two people each can still join together but they must be the same two households all the time
- Faith gatherings can be held outdoors with a limit of 10 plus officiants when hosted by a recognized organization; drive-in services are allowed with no limit on numbers
- Weddings and funeral ceremonies remain limited to five plus officiants indoors but can increase to 10 plus officiants outdoors; there can be no receptions or visitations
- Restaurants and licensed establishments can open patios at their maximum capacity with physical distance between tables, a limit of 10 people per table and masks when people are not eating or drinking; they must stop service by 11 p.m. and close by midnight
- All retail stores can operate at 25 per cent capacity, ensuring physical distance
- Personal services such as hair salons, barber shops and spas can operate by appointment only following their sector plan but cannot offer services that require removing the customer’s mask
- Fitness and recreation facilities can offer outdoor activities with a limit of 10 people with physical distancing, or multiple groups of 10 that are distanced on their own property, as well as one-on-one personal training indoors
- Outdoor pools can open with a limit of 10 people at a time with physical distancing
- Organized sports practices can have 10 people outdoors without physical distancing, or multiple groups of 10 that are distanced
- Professional arts and culture organizations can hold rehearsals with 15 people indoors and amateur rehearsals can have 10 people outdoors without physical distancing
- Drive-in theatres can operate with no limit on numbers
- Campgrounds can offer season and short-term camping following their sector plan with distance between campsites
- Residents of long-term care facilities can have visitors outdoors; visitors must wear masks but no physical distance is required if the resident is fully vaccinated
- Recreation activities and services such as hairstyling can resume for fully vaccinated residents of long-term care facilities
- Fully vaccinated residents of homes licensed by the Department of Health and Wellness under the Homes for Special Care Act can resume access to their communities for work or school
- Fully vaccinated residents of homes licensed by the Department of Community Service under the Homes for Special Care Act can resume access to their communities for work, therapy, recreation and family visits
- More people can get exceptions to enter Nova Scotia for end-of-life visits with immediate family members
- Students from within Canada can apply to enter the province for in-person or virtual studies if they are enrolled in the summer semester