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Nova Scotia will drop nearly all Public Health restrictions related to COVID effective next Wednesday, September 15. This means there will be no requirements for masking, social distancing, or gathering limits, although private businesses and some government agencies may still impose them.

Additionally, however, effective October 4, the province will have a “proof of vaccination” requirement for people entering all non-essential businesses such as restaurants, bars, and gyms.

Today’s announcement reflects Nova Scotia’s very high vaccination rate, which is the highest of Canadian provinces and US states, and  among the very highest in the world.

But as the Fourth Wave of the pandemic breaks out in other jurisdictions, Nova Scotia is seeing an increase in travellers bringing the virus in with them; so far, that increase has been limited to the travellers themselves and their close contacts, and there is no community spread. However, many of the new cases are among children — for example, 10 of today’s 14 new cases were people 19 years old and younger, and four of them were kids under 12. Children under 12 cannot get vaccinated.

Jump to sections in this article:
Phase 5 reopening
Proof of vaccination
Overview
Vaccination
Demographics
Testing
Potential exposure advisories


Phase 5 reopening

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID briefing, September 8, 2021. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

“The fourth wave is gaining steam [across Canada], and we can expect to see ongoing COVID activity [in Nova Scotia] during the fall,” ” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at a media briefing Wednesday afternoon.

“However,” he continued, “we’re very close to reaching our target of at least 75% of the population being fully vaccinated with two doses — close enough that I feel comfortable that we will reach that target and to be able to move into Phase 5 on September 15.”

While most restrictions will be removed, explains a press release:

Health-care facilities will continue to set their own policies for masks and visitation. Businesses and other organizations are also free to set their own mask policies. Masks will be required in schools until Sept. 20 to allow students, staff and teachers time to transition to Phase 5. Wearing masks will continue to be strongly recommended.

I asked Strang how he could be confident the 75% target would be reached. Our exchange:

Bousquet: I’m having a hard time understanding how we get to 75% in a week when we’re at 72% right now and the double-dose is rising maybe a tenth of a percentage point a day.

Strang: It’s based on appointments we had booked [through] September 15. We were at 73 point something percent today. Our projections, even overnight — there’s been a bump in people making appointments. We’re now at 74.1%. We can expect that that over the next few days that trend will continue. So I’m fully comfortable and confident that we will get to that 75% by next Wednesday, given the trend we’re seeing in in the short in the last day or two. [There’s] even of a continued increase in people coming forward for vaccinations. Yesterday, we had the largest number of people coming forward for a seeing for their first dose of vaccine that we’ve had since early August. So we continue to have lots of people coming forward.

After September 15, only a handful of COVID-related restrictions will remain, including:

• people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate and get tested, as is anyone else ordered to do so by Public Health;

• people travelling into the province must continue to self-isolate based on vaccination status, but the current two-week self-isolation requirement for completely unvaccinated people will change to the same requirement now imposed on travellers with one dose: they will have to self-isolate for seven days and get two negative test results.

Listen to the entire press conference here:

https://www.halifaxexaminer.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/09082021143354_dn_500r.mp3


Proof of vaccination

Communications staff urged reporters not to use the term “vaccine passports” but rather “proof of vaccination” for the new requirement. Asked why not simply call it a passport, Premier Tim Houston responded:

Well, I guess words matter. I mean, this is a policy that’s designed to keep people safe, just like all the other policies that have come from Public Health. So the reality is it’s a policy that will keep people safe. So that’s what we’re we’re calling it the proof of vaccine policy. I mean, other people may want to call it other things, but I was pretty clear during the campaign and any time I’ve been asked that, we pay a great amount of respect to Dr. Strang and his team at Public Health. And when people look at what’s happening with the fourth wave, they look at the Delta variant. There’s certain things we need to do to stay, keep people safe, keep Nova Scotia safe. And one of them is have a proof of vaccine policy. So that’s what we’ll have.

The press release explains:

As of Oct. 4, proof of full vaccination will be required for Nova Scotians who are 12 or older to participate in discretionary, recreational or non-essential activities such as dining out, going to a fitness facility, or going to a movie, theatre performance, concert or sporting event. The proof of vaccination requirement does not apply to children 11 years of age and under because they are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Children age 11 and under who attend these activities with a fully vaccinated adult will be allowed to participate.

People are considered to be fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose of a World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccine or the one-dose Janssen vaccine, which is also WHO-approved.

The province will also develop a process for the few people who have medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated. More details about the proof of vaccination policy will become available in the coming weeks.


Today’s new cases

Nova Scotia has announced 14 new cases of COVID-19 today, Wednesday, September 8.

Nine of the new cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Northern Zone, three are in the Central Zone, one is in the Eastern Zone, and one is in the Western Zone. They break down as follows:

Of the new cases:
• nine Northern Zone — all nine are close contacts of previously reported cases. Eight of the nine are people 19 years old or younger, and the ninth is aged 20-39.
• three Central Zone — two are related to travel, one is under investigation. One of the cases is 19 or younger, one is aged 20-39, and one is aged 40-59.
• one Western Zone — under investigation. The person is 19 or younger.
• one Eastern Zone — close contact, The person is aged 40-59.

There are now 61 known active cases in the province. One person is in hospital with the disease, but not in ICU. Eleven people are considered newly recovered, which means they are no longer contagious and not necessarily that they aren’t sick.


Vaccination

Yesterday, 1,814 doses of vaccine were administered — 1,258 second doses and 556 first doses.. A total of 1,456,631 doses of vaccine have been administered, of which 696,782 were second doses. As of end of day yesterday, 78.2% of the entire population have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 71.7% have received two doses.

However, the approximately 8,000 military personnel stationed in Nova Scotia were vaccinated through the military’s vaccination program and are not included in the above percentages; if they are included, then the double-dosed percentage increases to 72.6% of the entire population.

People 12 years old and older can also book a vaccination appointment here.

People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccination appointment should contact Rural Rides, which will get you there and back home for just $5. You need to book the ride 24 hours ahead of time.


Demographics

Of today’s 14 new cases, 10 are 19 years old or younger, two are aged 20-39, and two are aged 40-59.

Today, I repeated my request to Strang from several weeks ago that Public Health  separate the under 19 age cohort into 0-11 (unvaccinated) and 12-19 (highly vaccinated), and he said it would happen soon.

The active cases across the province are distributed as follows:

Central Zone
• 16 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network
• 7 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network
• 3 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network
• 2 in the Eastern Shore/Musquodoboit Community Health Network
• 1 in the West Hants Community Health Network
• 1 not assigned to a Community Health Network
Total: 30

Eastern Zone
• 2 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network
• 0 in the Inverness, Victoria & Richmond Community Health Network
• 1 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network
Total: 3

Northern Zone
• 16 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network
• 0 in the Pictou Community Health Network
• 2 in the Cumberland Community Health Network
Total: 18

Western Zone
• 9 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network
• 0 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network
• 1 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network
Total: 10


Testing

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 2,229 PCR tests yesterday. This does not include the antigen tests administered by the pop-up testing sties, or those conducted at home.

You do not need a health card to get tested.

Pop-up testing (antigen testing) is for asymptomatic people over 16 who have not been to the potential COVID exposure sites (see map below); results usually within 20 minutes. Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:

Wednesday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm

Thursday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm

Friday
Halifax Convention Centre, noon-7pm
Dartmouth Summer Sunshine Series, 5:30-7:30pm

You can volunteer to work at the pop-up testing sites here or here. No medical experience is necessary.

You can also get PCR testing at the Nova Scotia Health labs by going here. Appointments can be made for the IWK, or for various locations in each of the health zones (appointments may not be available at each site).


Potential exposure advisories

Nova Scotia Health issued several potential COVID exposure advisories last night.

We’ve collected all the active advisories for potential COVID exposures on bus routes and flights here.

The updated potential COVID exposure advisory map is below; you can zoom in and click on the coronavirus icons to get information about each site.


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Tim Bousquet

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

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4 Comments

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  1. I’m not happy with lifting mandatory masking on September 15. Cases are rising elsewhere, and we know vaccination only keeps one from getting AS sick, it does NOT prevent infection. So why are we, who have been more cautious and more protected, leaping into the fourth wave with a big splash?
    Masking works. Keep it.

  2. Tim, why would Nova Scotia lessen protections for children by removing mandatory masking in public indoor spaces, especially in schools? Pediatric Covid-19 cases are surging in other provinces, the US, the UK and elsewhere where the Delta variant is dominating and public health measures have been removed. BMJ reports one in seven Covid-19 positive children in the UK have long Covid (remaining ill for 15 months) and we don’t know the long-term impacts. Vaccination trials are wrapping up this Fall and vaccines for young children are expected. Please continue your excellent reporting and ask the government to protect our kids.

  3. Maybe I’m missing something but there seems to be something missing. If restrictions are lifted on Sept. 15 but proof of vax not needed until Oct. 4 does that mean people can participate in non-essential activities without proof of vax between Sept.15-Oct. 4. Seems unlikely but that’s the way it appears.

    1. It does mean that.

      Strang was asked about that, and said in essence that it takes a month to get the system up and running and it additionally gives people time to get vaccinated.