HRM & Area New COVID-19 Restrictions
New restrictions and requirements
• We are seeing a rise in cases of COVID-19, mainly related to people engaging in social activities in urban and suburban areas of Halifax. • In these areas, we are lowering some gathering limits to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. • We are also implementing some provincewide restrictions for long-term care facilities, and a requirement for bars and restaurants to record contact information for contact tracing purposes. • Now is the time for people to make their social circles smaller to keep our communities safe. • Now is the time for employers to support employees who are unwell to stay home.
What are the provincewide restrictions and requirements? • Full-service restaurants and licensed establishments must collect names, contact information, and date and time of visit for every patron who dines in/is seated at the establishment. This is for contract tracing purposes. • Long-term care residents cannot leave their facilities for visits in the community. However, designated caregivers can take a resident for a drive as long as they wear mask, have nobody else in the car, and make no stops. Facilities are required to support other opportunities that are allowed under the long-term care directive for their residents, such as visits and social gatherings in the facility.
What are the new gathering limits and LTC restrictions in the Halifax area?
From November 23 to December 21: • People can have a close social group of 5 without physical distancing (down from 10). This applies to gatherings in your home, groups sitting together at a restaurant or bar, and groups sitting/being together at events. • The general gathering limit is now 25 with physical distancing (down from 50) except among people from the same household or close social group of 5. This applies to community events that are not hosted by a recognized business or organization. An example would be a neighourhood street party. • Events hosted by a recognized business or organization can have 150 outdoors (down from 250) and 50% of an indoor venue’s capacity to a maximum of 100 (down from 200). Physical distancing is required, except among people from the same household or close social group of 5. An example would be a wedding reception at a hotel. • Community-based adult day programs for seniors who live in the community cannot operate.
Where do the new Halifax area restrictions apply?
New gathering limits will apply to all of HRM except areas east of Porters Lake to Ecum Secum. They to the Enfield and Mount Uniacke areas in both HRM and Hants County. The limits do not apply in Elmsdale and communities north of there. Please see a fuller list at novascotia.ca/coronavirus.
How long will these restrictions last?
We are putting these targeted restrictions in place as of 12:01 a.m. November 23 and we aim to lift them on December 21. We will continuously monitor the situation. Any further changes will be announced publicly.
Why are the gathering limits only for Halifax? Why not the whole province?
At the beginning of the pandemic, we shut down the entire province. We are trying to avoid doing that again by taking a targeted approach. The rise in cases we are currently seeing is in urban and some suburban areas of Halifax Regional Municipality, so the added restrictions only apply in the areas outlined above.
All other parts of the province need to continue following the public health measures that were already in place.
What happens if you have more than 5 people in your household? Can a family of 7 go out to dinner?
Some households have more than 5 people. These household members can continue to interact without physical distancing at home. When you go out into the community, however, your household has to stay in groups of 5 or less.
If you already have 5 people in your household, does this mean you can’t let anyone else come into your house?
Regardless of the number of people in your household, you can have up to 5 visitors at a time. We also recognize you may need to let people into your home for different reasons such as child care, urgent repairs, etc. That is allowed.
Does this mean you can’t have family members come for the holidays?
These restrictions are in place for 4 weeks. If all goes well, we may be able to lift them on December 21 before the holidays. Any further changes will be announced publicly.
Will you grandfather people who have booked venues for holiday parties under the larger gathering limits, or do they have to scale back their events?
They will have to scale back their events.
How will businesses survive if they have to lower their numbers and scale back holiday events?
We understand this is challenging for businesses. We’ve engaged them in discussion before making decisions on these restrictions. We’ve done our best to balance their business needs with the need to keep people safe.
Does the limit of 5 apply to sports practices/competitions and arts rehearsals/performances?
No, the gathering limit of 50 without physical distancing is still in place for sports practices/competitions and arts rehearsals/performances. This is because we are not seeing transmission of the virus in these environments. We are seeing it mainly among young adults who are getting together to socialize.
Does the limit of 5 apply to fitness facilities and classes?
No, fitness facilities and classes do not have a gathering limit. They must ensure physical distancing among staff and members/participants, so they have to determine the number they can allow based on the size of their space.
Does the limit of 5 apply to day cares, day camps or before and after school programs?
No, the limit of 15 without physical distancing remains in place for these settings.
Does the limit of 5 apply to dining and social gatherings in long-term care facilities?
Yes, the limit of 5 applies to for gatherings in long-term care facilities. This adds to the other measures in place to protect these residents.
Are there any changes for the number of children in classrooms? Why not?
There are no changes for public school classrooms. This is because these environments are not the primary driver of transmission. We are seeing transmission mainly among young adults who are getting together to socialize.
RECORDS FOR CONTACT TRACING
Do all bars and restaurants need to collect contact information?
Starting November 23, this requirement applies to full-service restaurants and licensed establishments where patrons sit at tables to be served. It does not apply to staff at take out or fast food establishments.
How much information do they need to collect for contact tracing purposes?
They must collect accurate contact information from at least one person in each party, including date and time of visit, name and phone number. Nothing more is required, and nothing more is appropriate from a privacy perspective.
How long do establishments need to keep these records?
This data must be retained for 4 weeks from date of visit for contact-tracing purposes.
Is there an end date for this requirement?
There is no end date for this requirement.
Why are you no longer allowing LTC residents to visit in their communities?
Long-term care residents are among our most vulnerable populations and we must protect them from COVID-19. We are still allowing them to go for a drive, either in the facility’s vehicle or with their designated caregiver.
What activities are currently allowed in long-term care facilities?
While outdoor visits are still allowed, they are not practical at this time of year for most long-term care residents. Other opportunities are:
Indoor visits • three people can be designated as visitors; only one may visit at a time • everyone must wear a mask • everyone must practice physical distancing, except for brief contact like a hug • visits must be pre-scheduled with the facility • facilities must designate a location for the visit, ideally near an entrance • staff must escort visitors to and from the visit, and monitor the visit • visitors must be screened by the facility and they must practice proper hygiene • the area must be cleaned before and after each visit
Gatherings • residents and staff can gather in groups of 5 or less for dining, recreation or socializing without physical distancing • groups should remain consistent and visitors cannot join
Licensed hair salons • licensed hair salons that operate within a long-term care home can be open to residents only • the salon must follow the guidelines set by the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia and submit a safety plan to the facility within which it is located • a list of every resident who visited the salon, and when, must be maintained
Off-site bus trips • facilities can offer bus trips for groups of up to 5 people (including residents, staff and driver) • the trips must be for sightseeing only – residents and staff cannot disembark the bus • bus drivers must be screened using the same protocols as visitors to a facility and contact between the driver and residents/staff should be limited • the bus must be cleaned before and after use • facilities are expected to group the same residents together each time and maintain consistent staff, where possible • designated caregivers can take a resident for a drive as long as they wear mask, have nobody else in the car, and make no stops
*Information provided by Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia.