N.S. further relaxes COVID-19 public health restrictions, pushes harder on vaccines

·2 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is further reducing COVID-19 public health orders this week, and the province's top public health doctor is calling on citizens to stop hesitating on getting the Moderna vaccine.

Dr. Robert Strang said today Nova Scotia will begin its fourth phase of reopening on Wednesday.

Strang says the decision is tied to strong COVID-19 vaccine uptake and low, new daily case numbers.

Under the new rules, retail stores can operate at full capacity, churches and other venues can operate at half capacity or with a maximum of 150 people, and up to 50 people can attend outdoor family gatherings.

Strang told reporters today about 90,000 Nova Scotians haven't taken advantage of the opportunity to advance their appointments for second vaccine doses.

He says some people appear to be holding out for a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rather than the Moderna vaccine, and he says both vaccines are safe.

"To anyone who is simply waiting for Pfizer, please don't wait," Strang said. "There's no real difference … both are safe and effective.

"The Delta variant has a foothold in other provinces and one dose is not enough to protect you," he said, referring to a mutation of the novel coronavirus that is considered highly infectious.

The government is opening walk-in vaccination clinics for people 18 years and over, Strang said. Asked whether he believes the province should directly reach out via telephone or email to those who haven't received their vaccines, Strang said he didn't believe such a measure was necessary.

"We're not at the point of reaching out to people individually," he said. "I think you have to be careful you don't become intrusive."

Other restrictions that will end on Wednesday include capacity limits for dance classes, music lessons and indoor play spaces. Organized sports practices, games, league play, competitions and recreation programs can involve up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors without physical distancing.

Day camps can operate with 30 campers per group plus staff and volunteers, following the day camp guidelines. In addition, professional and amateur arts and culture rehearsals and performances can involve up to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors without physical distancing.

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated residents of long-term care homes can now have visitors in their rooms and visit their family's homes, including for overnight stays.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2021.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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