Nova Scotia to ask Supreme Court to lift injunction forbidding gatherings next week

·3 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia has asked the court to lift an injunction it obtained last month against illegal gatherings as COVID-19 cases continued to decline in the province and right across Atlantic Canada on Friday.

Premier Iain Rankin's office said in a statement a motion was filed earlier this week with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to lift the injunction obtained by the province on May 14.

The case will be heard on Tuesday.

Rankin cautioned it doesn't mean the province should let down its guard against the virus.

"We are still in a state of emergency and we must continue to respect the public health measures," he said. "Thanks to the hard work of Nova Scotians, we are now in a much better place with the virus."

A total of 14 new cases of novel coronavirus were reported across the four Atlantic provinces on Friday, with the majority in Nova Scotia.

The province identified 11 cases, including nine in the Halifax area and two in the eastern health zone, which includes Cape Breton, and has 93 active cases.

Nova Scotia's injunction was aimed at preventing illegal gatherings in defiance of public health orders introduced to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The court order was primarily aimed at two anti-mask protests including one planned for Citadel Hill in Halifax on May 15 by a group called "Freedom Nova Scotia.'' However, its reach extended to similar groups and also banned the promotion of similar gatherings on social media.

But it was criticized as being too broad, with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) arguing the injunction banned all protests in the province, including socially distanced demonstrations.

In a statement, the CCLA agreed that the injunction should be lifted, but said it was "never necessary or justified at law." It intends to have the original injunction order reconsidered at a June 30 hearing.

"The fact that the government obtained this injunction to enforce a public health order on an ex parte basis, and that it impacted the Charter-protected rights of all Nova Scotians, still raises serious legal and constitutional issues," the CCLA said.

Meanwhile, health officials said that as of Thursday, 752,599 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the province with 73,600 people having received their booster shot.

Appointments for second doses of vaccine also continued to ramp up as people who got their first shot on or before May 14 were notified to book earlier for booster shots.

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said Nova Scotia is expecting 400,000 doses of Moderna vaccine in coming weeks — its largest shipment to date.

In New Brunswick, health officials reported three new COVID-19 cases — all in the Fredericton area. The province has 54 active cases.

The province, which opened to travellers from across Canada on Thursday, said people who received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before May 15 could now book an appointment for their second dose.

Officials also said that beginning Monday second dose appointments would be open to everyone, if at least 28 days had passed since their first dose.

Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of the infection Friday and 22 active cases.

Prince Edward Island currently has no active cases and hasn't reported a new case of novel coronavirus since June 3.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2021.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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