While the pace of new cases has slowed, Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 death toll continues to climb, with six new deaths at Northwood announced yesterday, raising the toll to 37 provincewide. The province also confirmed eight new cases, raising the tally to 971. “Six more families are mourning the loss of a loved one today and my thoughts are with them. I am so very sorry for your loss,” Premier Stephen McNeil says in a press release. “I ask all Nova Scotians to help keep COVID-19 out of our long-term care facilities and our communities by continuing to follow the public health directives to help stop the spread of this virus.”

The great outdoors
Citing concerns about Nova Scotians’ mental health, on Friday Premier McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, announced the easing of some public-health restrictions. They say the changes are intended to make it easier for Nova Scotians to partake in outdoor recreation. “We know that getting outdoors for recreation is important for people’s physical and mental health,” says McNeil. “That’s why we are easing some restrictions, while still keeping the majority of our public health directives in place to continue fighting the virus. But I need to be clear: if we see an increase in positive cases or people not continuing to adhere to all the public health measures, the restrictions will return.”

  • Provincial and municipal parks reopen, but playground equipment remains off limits.
  • Trails can open.
  • People are allowed to use and visit community gardens.
  • Garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses can open.
  • Sportfishing is permitted from shore or boat, but fishing derbies are not allowed.
  • People can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.
  • Golf driving ranges can open, including those at golf clubs, but the course must remain closed; golf clubs can perform necessary maintenance and preparations for opening.
  • People can use their cottages. Use is restricted to one household unit at a time, travel must be directly to the cottage and back, and travelling back and forth frequently from cottage and primary residence is discouraged.
  • Provincial and private campgrounds remain closed, but they can perform necessary maintenance and preparations for opening. An exception is recreational vehicles parked year-round at private campgrounds, which can be used but must follow the same rules as cottages.
  • Drive-in religious services will be allowed, as long as people stay in their cars, they are parked two metres apart and there are no interactions between people in cars or between people in cars and others.

Fishing industry calls for more support
As the fishing industry staggers from the economic impact of the pandemic, representatives are urging government to quickly help. “We need the federal government to step up,” says Melanie Sonnenberg, president of the Canadian Independent Fish Harvesters’ Association. “Mother Nature will not wait for government to make decisions.” She explains that the seasonal nature of the industry means workers risk may not be able to go out at all for some harvests, due to the shortage of protective equipment and the impossibility of distancing on small fishing boats. See Jake Boudrot’s recent story for The Reporter.

Medical equipment needs continue
Frontline health-care workers around the province also continue to worry about equipment inventories. The Health Services Foundation of the South Shore has launched a fund to buy equipment for the fight against COVID-19 at Bridgewater’s South Shore Regional Hospital and Lunenburg’s Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital. The Front Line Fund aims to raise $91,000 for equipment such as transport stretchers and mattresses, vital signs monitors, dividers with trolleys, and stethoscopes, reports Gayle Wilson for LighthouseNow. “We want to make the work of our hospital staff and physicians just a bit easier as we all come together to fight this pandemic,” says foundation executive director executive director, Arleen Stevens. “At a time where people may feel powerless, this is an opportunity for them to help in the fight against COVID-19.”

Celebrating local businesses
A new campaign aims to spotlight local businesses that are persevering in the face of the pandemic. The winner will get a $3,000 advertising package from Advocate Media, which owns Halifax Magazine. Follow the link to nominate someone.

Good causes
Know a community group, good cause, or inspiring local story we should share? Email the editor.

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