Bench with caution tape hanging from it.
Off-limits park bench in Westmount Park, Halifax. Photo: Kent Martin

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.

One more person at Northwood has died with COVID-19, the 23rd resident of that nursing home to die with the disease. A total of 29 people in Nova Scotia have died with the disease, including the 23 at Northwood.

As of today, there have been 299 cases of COVID-19 at Northwood, split between 218 residents and 81 employees; 16 of the residents and 18 of the employees have recovered.

The province additionally announced that 12 more Nova Scotians have tested positive for the disease, bringing the province-wide total to 959; 10 people are in hospital, three of whom are in ICU. There are 338 active cases province-wide, with about 179 (53%) of those being Northwood residents (“about” because the Northwood and provincial reporting periods are not perfectly aligned).

Easing restrictions

Today, the province announced the following easing of COVID restrictions, effective immediately:

Existing public health directives around social distancing and social gatherings remain in place. People must keep two metres apart and not gather in groups of more than five.

The initial steps are:
— provincial and municipal parks can reopen, but playground equipment will continue to be off limits
— trails are allowed to open
— people are allowed to use and visit community gardens
— garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses can open
— sportfishing is permitted from shore or boat, but fishing derbies are not allowed
— people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use
— golf driving ranges can open, including those at golf clubs, but the course must remain closed; golf clubs can perform necessary maintenance and preparations for opening
— people can use their cottages. Use is restricted to one household unit at a time, travel must be directly to the cottage and back, and travelling back and forth frequently from cottage and primary residence is discouraged
— provincial and private campgrounds remain closed, but they can perform necessary maintenance and preparations for opening. An exception is recreational vehicles parked year-round at private campgrounds, which can be used but must follow the same rules as cottages
— drive-in religious services will be allowed, as long as people stay in their cars, they are parked two metres apart and there are no interactions between people in cars or between people in cars and others

During today’s briefing, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, called the easing of restrictions a “measured approach” that would be tested for “several weeks” to see if infection rates remain low (the incubation period is considered to be 14 days). If so, more easing will be considered at that point.

Strang said that sportsfields and schoolyards may open, and people can use the parks (but not the playgrounds in the parks) as they normally do, so long as they are in household units and keeping social distance from people they don’t live with.

He further discouraged driving to parks, but if people do drive and they find a busy parking lot, they should “go somewhere else.”

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Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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