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Reacting to a record umber of new cases of COVID-19 — 25 announced on Wednesday and 38 on Thursday— Premier Iain Rankin today instituted a series of new restrictions on the Halifax area.
“Our case numbers are rising too rapidly, and there is now community spread within Halifax Regional Municipality,” said Rankin. “We’ve all seen what’s happening outside of our borders, where some variants have gained a foothold. No one wants that right now, [so] our immediate concern is the COVID activity we’re seeing within the Halifax area. That’s why effective tomorrow at 8am, we are introducing new restrictions for all of HRM, as well as a number of communities in the surrounding area. We are implementing what is almost a full lockdown and it will be in place for the next four weeks.”
(See a breakdown of new case numbers, and testing opportunities, here.)
The new restrictions impose a ban on non-essential travel into and out of Halifax, close restaurants and bars to seated service (including on patios), shut classrooms in six families of schools, impose a new gathering limit of just five people, and close gyms, fitness centres, and personal care services.
See a detailed list of the new restrictions here.
“The intent of these restrictions is to keep people home as much as possible,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang. “As before, when we’ve done this, go to work, go to school, get your essentials, go to your medical and other necessary appointments, including your vaccine appointment, but otherwise, stay home.”
“Daycares will remain open,” said Strang. “Most schools will stay open as well, where possible. Children and youth need to be in school for their education, social, and emotional development, mental and mental health. We have done an amazing job of keeping children and youth in school all year. There are certainly not many jurisdictions in Canada that can say that, but our schools are being impacted by increased COVID-19 activity.”
Eight of the recent cases are connected to eight different schools. Therefore, the following families of schools are closed for two weeks effective Friday:
Auburn Drive High family of schools
Astral Drive Elementary
Bell Park Academic Centre
Caldwell Road Elementary
Colby Village Elementary
Joseph Giles Elementary
Humber Park Elementary
Astral Drive Junior High
Graham Creighton Junior High
Cole Harbour District High family of schools
Atlantic View Elementary
Colonel John Stuart Elementary
George Bissett Elementary
Nelson Whynder Elementary
Robert K. Turner Elementary
Ross Road School (P-9)
Sir Robert Borden Junior High
Dartmouth High family of schools
Bicentennial School (P-9)
Crichton Park Elementary
Dartmouth South Academy (P-8)
Harbour View Elementary
John MacNeil Elementary
Shannon Park Elementary
South Woodside Elementary
John Martin Junior High
École secondaire Mosaïque
École du Carrefour
Strang downplayed the risk of spread in school.
“The exposure is not happening in the school,” he said. “We’re not getting transmission by and large within the school. What is happening? Because we have lots of disease activity out in the community, it just so happens that there are people are exposed and become infected out in their community and now then they have to be in school while they were infectious.
“Fortunately,” he continued, “as we had the contacts in schools, as we isolate them and test them, we’re not seeing very many cases occur from that. Since September, we’ve had lots of cases in schools and we have not seen schools having a significant transmission of virus in the schools.”
Still, the new restrictions require that all students in all grades be masked. Previously, masks were not required for Primary through Grade 3 students.
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