Nova Scotia to welcome visitors from across Canada in third phase of reopening plan

·4 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia will move into Phase 3 of its reopening plan on Wednesday, which eases restrictions on businesses and reopens its border to travellers from outside Atlantic Canada.

Premier Iain Rankin announced Tuesday that people from the rest of Canada will be able to enter the province but will be subject to isolation requirements if they are not fully vaccinated.

"Tomorrow is an exciting day," Rankin said during a briefing, while also adding a message to the people in his province. "Let's not let up. We need to continue to get vaccinated and continue to get tested as we open up."

Beginning Wednesday, travellers from outside Atlantic Canada will have to complete a check-in form if they want to visit the province. Those who are fully vaccinated at least 14 days before their arrival in Nova Scotia won't have to self-isolate, while people with one dose will have to quarantine for seven days and will need two negative test results during that time.

Travellers who haven't had a shot will have to self-isolate for 14 days and will be subject to testing at the beginning and end of that period.

Also starting Wednesday, people from New Brunswick will be able to enter Nova Scotia without restrictions, joining travellers from the rest of Atlantic Canada who were welcomed back to the province last Wednesday.

Nova Scotia had originally stipulated that travellers from New Brunswick would need to self-isolate upon arrival because that province had opened to the rest of Canada earlier than its Atlantic counterparts. But Rankin changed the policy following protests last week on the Trans-Canada Highway at the boundary with New Brunswick that led to a daylong blockade.

Rankin thanked people on both sides of the provincial boundary for their patience, saying the time was needed to increase vaccinations. "We have an extra 100,000 doses into arms — we really needed that extra week," he said.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said there will be some checks by officials at the border although they won't involve New Brunswick travellers.

"We can't pull over every single car. But if you are coming from outside of Atlantic Canada, there is a good chance you might get stopped," Strang said, urging travellers to have their paperwork in order.

Under Phase 3 of the five-stage reopening plan, businesses such as hair salons, barber shops and spas will be allowed to offer walk-in service, and retail stores will be allowed to operate at 75 per cent capacity, up from 50 per cent. Fully vaccinated long-term care residents will be allowed to welcome visitors in designated areas, and social distancing won't be required for outdoor visits. Long-term residents who are not fully vaccinated will also be permitted to visit outdoor public spaces, such as parks.

Restaurants will get one hour more of in-person dining, until midnight, and they must close by 1 a.m., although they can continue to offer takeout, delivery and drive-thru service after closing.

Indoor social gatherings will be expanded to members of a household plus an additional 10 people, who won't need to wear masks or physically distance, and outdoor gathering limits will remain at 25 people.

Meanwhile, health officials reported one new case of COVID-19 Tuesday in the province's eastern health zone, which includes Cape Breton. Nova Scotia has 51 active reported cases and two people in hospital with the disease.

The province also reported that it had administered more than 900,000 doses of vaccine. Currently nearly 73 per cent of people have had at least one dose while 20 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Strang said that even as vaccinations increase at a steady rate, other measures such as wearing a mask and social distancing will have to remain in place.

"We need to hold on to these more personal protective measures at least through July while we introduce the risk that is inherent with having more people come into the province," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2021.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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