Canada N.S. limits travel in and out of province to essential trips only
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Nova Scotia is placing new restrictions on who can travel to the province, announcing that come Thursday at 8 a.m., people will not be allowed to enter unless their trip is deemed essential or they are permanent residents of the province.
Premier Iain Rankin made the announcement during a press briefing early Tuesday afternoon. Only those travelling from P.E.I. or Newfoundland and Labrador, where COVID-19 case counts are low, are exempt from the new rules.
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Nova Scotia residents are also being told not to leave the province unless it is necessary.
"In light of the rise in cases related to travel in the province, we have decided to restrict non-essential travel into Nova Scotia," Rankin said. "This means all Nova Scotians, unless their travel is essential, should not leave the province. It also means that those people who live outside Nova Scotia should not travel to our province unless that travel is essential."
The limitations come as Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said there are early signs of COVID-19 community spread, including in Lower Sackville, Halifax, Dartmouth and Lawrencetown. Strang urged anyone in those communities to get tested regardless of whether they have symptoms.
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The following types of travel from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador are considered essential:
- People who live in Nova Scotia but their primary employment is in another province.
- Federally approved temporary foreign workers.
- People who need to participate in-person in a legal proceeding in another province.
- Post-secondary students coming to study in Nova Scotia.
- Post-secondary students returning to their primary or family residence in Nova Scotia and parents who accompany them.
- Parents picking up a student in Nova Scotia to take them home as quickly as possible.
- People who can demonstrate that they already have a new permanent address in Nova Scotia as of April 21 and are moving here permanently.
- People traveling for child custody reasons following the child custody protocol.
- People who are exempt from self-isolation following the exempt traveler protocol.
- People traveling between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for work, school or children in child care, following conditions in the protocol for travel between these provinces.
The new travel restrictions will be in place for four weeks, but may be extended past May 20 if necessary.
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Strang said Nova Scotia will be making fewer exemptions for compassionate reasons and will not allow people to enter from outside Atlantic Canada for funerals — and "only in exceptional circumstances" for end-of-life visits.
There has been a 400 per cent increase recently in people travelling across the land border, Strang said, though he did not have specific numbers.
Once the restrictions are in place, people attempting to cross the border will be required to fill in a digital check-in form and receive approval.
Strang said the new restrictions also apply to anyone who is purchasing a home in the province. If the home is purchased before April 21, the buyers can come to the province to move in. But if they purchase it after April 21, they must wait until travel restrictions change.
"We need to stop the flow of people coming into the province for non-essential reasons, including moving here," Strang said. "Now is not the time."
The province said details are still being worked out on who must isolate after essential travel.
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But later in the day, it announced that two additional cases had been identified in connection with schools, including Dartmouth South Academy elementary and Auburn Drive High, both in Dartmouth.
Those two schools will remain closed until April 26 for cleaning. The two cases were identified after the cut-off for the day, so they will be included in Wednesday's COVID-19 numbers.
Public Health will get in touch with anyone who was in close contact with the affected people, and they will be asked to get tested and to self-isolate for 14 days. However, Public Health recommends that all students and staff at the schools get tested.
Over the weekend, the provincein the Halifax area because of COVID-19 cases.
Six of the new cases reported Tuesday are in the central zone. Of those, five are close contacts of previously announced cases and one is under investigation.
Two new cases are in the western zone, one is in the eastern zone. The three are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.
Two previously reported cases have been confirmed as being the variant first found in the U.K. They were related to travel.
There are two people in hospital related to COVID-19, and neither are in the intensive care unit.
Laboratories completed 2,723 tests on Monday.
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Cluster of cases
Nova Scotians must not socialize with family and friends who are supposed to be quarantining, Strang said, as a current cluster of cases was prompted by a gathering with people who had recently arrived from Ontario.
He said while residents can support people in quarantine with food and essentials, they should not have close contact with them.
"Doing so, as we can clearly see, puts us all at risk," he said.
Also as of Monday, 216,018 doses of vaccine have been administered in Nova Scotia. Nearly 19 per cent of Nova Scotia's population has been given at least one dose of vaccine, with 3.4 per cent being fully vaccinated.
Rankin said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford on the weekend about what resources Nova Scotia may be able to share with Ontario, but he said Nova Scotia will not reallocate its vaccines. The province is, however, considering whether it can fulfil Ford's request for trained doctors and nurses to help in intensive care units in that province.
This week and next week's shipments of vaccines are lower than they've been since mid-March, Rankin said, which means there will be fewer appointments available and it may take longer to get through the current age cohort. But the premier said so far, the supply issues won't affect the goal of giving all residents their first dose by the end of June.
Atlantic Canada case numbers
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