Nova Scotia delays lifting COVID restrictions until October

A man sits at a desk and speaks into a microphone
Dr. Robert Strang. Photo Communications Nova Scotia
Ed Halverson - CJQC/QCCR - LiverpoolNS | 15-09-2021

Nova Scotia will not be easing COVID restrictions Wednesday as they had hoped.

At an update last week, Premier Tim Houston and Dr. Robert Strang said the province could move into Phase 5 of the reopening plan, lifting requirements for masks, social distancing and reduced gathering limits if the number of Nova Scotians who are double vaccinated reached 75 percent and if the epidemiology determined it was safe to do so.

“The reason we’re delaying moving from Phase 4 to Phase 5 is not because of our vaccination. We’ve always said it’s vaccination plus epidemiology. We’ve had a rapidly evolving situation in the Maritime Provinces in the last few days, including Nova Scotia,” said Strang. “There’s too much risk for us to open up gathering limits when we don’t have the proof of vaccination to restrict those gatherings to only people who are vaccinated.”

Strang says all current COVID protocols will remain in place as the province aims to move to Phase 5 October 4.

That is the day Nova Scotia will require proof of vaccination to be shown to access any discretionary businesses, shops or services such as going to restaurants, gyms or movies.

Proof will not need to be provided at essential services like the grocery store, faith services and doctors offices.

A link to the complete list can be found on our website.

Among those still required to wear masks will be school staff and students.

Despite Nova Scotia having some of the highest vaccination rates in the world, a large cohort of the population still cannot be immunized, and those are children under 12.

Dr Strang said it could be early next year before a vaccine is ready for that group.

“Everything that I keep hearing is that it’s, through the fall before we get the vaccine companies with enough of their clinical trial data, to bring that in front of Health Canada, who is the regulator in this country,” said Strang. “So in all likelihood, to get through all of those regulatory steps and get final approval, get vaccine out and et cetera and develop a program, it’s likely that’s it’s going to be at earliest in early 2022 before we start immunizing people under 12. If it’s sooner than that, that would be great.”

Strang says at the outset of the pandemic the priority was to develop a vaccine for the most at-risk group of the population, which were seniors.

He says clinical trials weren’t started for children under 12 until much later, which is why there is a delay in bringing a vaccine for that cohort.

The news comes as Nova Scotia is reporting it’s highest single-day case count in months with a cluster of 61 cases in the Northern Zone accounting for the bulk of the 66 cases announced.

There are currently 173 active COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia.

Dr. Strang says he understands people have different perspectives on vaccination and that choice is important as he again, pleaded with those who are not yet vaccinated to step forward and get their shot.

“But personal choice cannot be all that you think about when it comes to COVID vaccines. I’d ask that you think about others and that you focus on the We, not the Me. The choice to be vaccinated or not has implications for those around you,” said Strang. “We are experiencing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Because of the risk of further spread, we are having to slow down our reopening. That impacts, directly, people, families, the healthcare system and our economy.”

Strang says we trust basic grounded science for the vast majority of things we do in our daily lives and the vaccine should be no different.

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