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The bubble has burst: New restrictions announced for Nova Scotia

Katharine Mack

After a relatively carefree Atlantic summer, the bubble has officially burst: as COVID-19 cases begin to rise, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have all announced that they will be pulling out of the “Atlantic Bubble” this week.

In addition, Premier Stephen McNeil and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announced on November 24 a number of new restrictions for Nova Scotia, which came into force at 12:01 a.m. on November 26. These restrictions will continue for two weeks, expiring December 9, with the possibility of further extension. There are now new rules in place for both individuals and businesses. Some of the new rules apply only to the greater Halifax Regional Municipality (“HRM”), while others apply province-wide.

The new rules include the following:

Restrictions for businesses within HRM

  • Restaurants and licenced establishments must close for in-person dining, but may provide take-out or delivery;
  • Retail stores must restrict shoppers and staff to 25% or less of allowable capacity;
  • Wineries, distilleries and breweries cannot hold tastings or in-person dining and must follow retail rules in their stores (delivery and curbside pickup are allowed);
  • Profit and non-profit fitness and recreational facilities must close;
  • Personal services businesses (e.g., hairstylists, estheticians, nail salons) may not provide services which require a client to remove their mask;
  • Libraries and museums must close; and
  • The casino and First Nations gaming establishments must close.

Restrictions for individuals within HRM

  • Gathering limits indoors are reduced to five individuals (gatherings of up to 10 remain permissible within the rest of the province);
  • Masks must be worn in common areas of multi-unit residential buildings;
  • Stronger enforcement of illegal gatherings, including ticketing of all attendees (total fine of $1,000); and
  • Organized sports, recreational, athletic, arts and cultural activities, and faith-based activities are paused.

Province-wide restrictions

  • Nova Scotians are being asked to avoid non-essential travel in and out of western and central HRM and to other Atlantic provinces;
  • No visitors except volunteers and designated caregivers are permitted in long-term care facilities;
  • Sports teams are restricted to local or regional play only; and
  • Schools, after-school programs and childcare will remain open, but there will be no extracurricular activities between schools.

The province has announced that a one-time grant of up to $5,000 is being made available to support businesses in HRM and Hants County that have been ordered by Public Health to temporarily close effective November 26, including small, independently owned dine-in restaurants, bars, and fitness and leisure establishments.

Eligible businesses will receive a one-time grant of 15% of their average monthly gross revenues for April 2019, or from February 2020 if it is a new business, up to a maximum of $5,000.

Businesses must experience a revenue decrease of 30% or more in November as a result of the ongoing impacts of the public health order or expect at least a 30% decrease in revenues in December 2020 resulting from the new measures.

This program is a targeted continuation of the Small Business Impact Grant and is funded through the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Response Council. The application process will open in the coming weeks.

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