Nova Scotia’s three-phase omicron reopening plan begins to ease some COVID-19 restrictions on February 14 with phase one. Phase two is supposed to start about a month later, and then phase three another month-ish after that, all depending on “ongoing epidemiology and hospitalizations” as the province puts it. But let’s not get ahead of things.
We never made it to Phase 5 of 2021’s COVID reopening plan—shout out to omicron for showing up and ruining everything—so here we’ll focus exclusively on what changes in phase one. And we won’t even think about stuff like the BA.2 omicron subvariant (already spotted in New Brunswick) or the whole human-deer-human COVID nightmare (seriously, don’t go there). Instead, let’s celebrate these freedoms:
Events are back, so crawl out of your couch crevice for live performances, sports and concerts. When it comes to participating in sports and performances, 60 people will now be able to gather instead of the previous 25. Spectators will follow the limit for formal gatherings, which is increasing to 50 percent of the venue capacity, up from 25 percent.
Dancing is also allowed, so long as you’re in a mask.
Additionally, when it comes to hanging out, gathering limits will increase from the current 10 to a new total of 25—though it’s still encouraged that this 25 be a consistent group of people.
Formal gatherings (that’s everything from weddings to funerals to festivals to faith gatherings) will increase to a 50 percent capacity limit, up from 25 percent.
Movie theatres will be able to increase capacity to 50 percent as well, but popcorn remains off-limits currently as restrictions keep concession stands closed.
Choirs at faith gatherings are encouraged to wear masks, while attendees are allowed to sing again (albeit while masked).
When it comes to shopping and retail, stores and malls are allowed to return to the maximum occupancy that still permits social distancing. The same is true for personal services like barber shops and nail salons. Don’t forget your mask, though!
The big category of fitness, recreation centers, organizations and businesses (which covers places like gyms, libraries, arenas and museums) can now crank up capacity to 75 percent instead of the previous 50 percent. This counts for galleries, too.
When it comes to eating out, two metres is still required between tables. But bars and restaurants will be able to return to 75 percent occupancy—and provide table service until midnight (instead of the previous 11pm).
There are no changes to mask requirements or proof of vaccination requirements in this phase.
Border restrictions are being lifted for domestic travellers, meaning you don’t need to complete the Safe Check-in Form or self-isolate when you arrive in Nova Scotia.
Long-term care residents are now allowed two visitors at a time, and they doesn’t need to be a consistent two. Visitors still need to be vaccinated and masked to visit, unless it’s an end-of-life visit.