Nova Scotia is reporting one new COVID-19 death on Friday — a woman over 80 in the central zone.
The woman's death brings the total number of deaths from COVID-19 to 67 since the pandemic began.
"It's a stark reminder the impact of COVID-19 continues to have on our province, and that we need to continue to remain vigilant and follow public health protocols," said Premier Iain Rankin.
Six new cases are also being reported, all related to travel outside Atlantic Canada except one, which is a close contact of a previously reported case. Three are in the central zone, two are in the eastern zone and one is in the western zone.
All six people are self-isolating.
The province now has 42 known active cases.
Another case of the variant first identified in the U.K. has also been identified. That case was previously reported, and brings the total number of variant cases first identified in the U.K. to 45. There have been 10 cases of the variant first found in South Africa.
Laboratories in the province completed 2,032 tests on Thursday.
Also as of Friday, more than 200,000 vaccines have been administered.
New rules for mask use
During Friday's COVID-19 briefing with Rankin, Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, announced that masks must be worn in outdoor places where physical distancing is not possible, such as farmers markets and festivals.
Masks will also be required at restaurants and bars, both indoors and outdoors on patios, including when entering, exiting or getting up from a table. Strang said masks can come off once patrons are seated and are eating or drinking.
"This is due to the now-common variant strains and their much greater ability to be transmitted between one person and another," Strang said.
Variants now 'the norm,' says Strang
Strang said virtually all of the COVID-19 tests that have come back positive in the past two or three days are variant cases.
"It's almost like the variant is no longer just the variant — that's our norm, across the country, that we can expect that everything we detect is a variant."
The increasing frequency of variant cases, which are more transmissible than non-variant COVID-19, means Nova Scotia must strengthen public health measures, such as the new mask policy, Strang said.
Improvements to vaccine booking systems
The province has added more phone lines for booking vaccinations and doubled the number of phone operators from 50 to 100 this week.
A new feature has also been added to let callers know what the expected wait time will be.
When the queue reaches 100, callers will get a message telling them that the system is full and they should call back. When there are over 120 people calling, people will get a busy signal.
Strang said the province will double the number of staff answering phone lines next week.
"We anticipate that all these improvements will make the booking process move even more quickly and have a better, less frustrating experience for people."
New flight exposure notices
On Friday, Nova Scotia Health reported potential exposures on two Air Canada flights into Halifax.
Anyone who was on the following flights in the specified rows and seats should book a COVID-19 test on the self-assessment website or by contacting 811, regardless of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms.
All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Air Canada Flight 8780 from Montreal on April 14 (7:55 a.m.) arriving in Halifax (10:27 a.m.). Passengers in rows 23-27, seats C, D and F. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms through April 28.
Air Canada Flight 8780 from Montreal on April 13 (8 a.m.) arriving in Halifax (10:24 a.m.). Passengers in rows 20-26, seats C, D and F. Anyone exposed may develop symptoms through April 27.
Rapid testing clinic cancelled
Pop-up rapid COVID-19 testing at St. Andrews Church on Coburg Road in Halifax scheduled for Sunday, April 18, and Monday, April 19, has been cancelled.
According to a release from Nova Scotia Health, the cancellations are due to a scheduling conflict.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
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