Nova Scotia hasn’t tallied a confirmed case of COVID-19 since June 9, according to the latest provincial government update. On Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, announced changes to public health restrictions.

Larger groups allowed
Effective July 3, if a recognized business or organization is planning an event outdoors, 250 people can attend with physical distancing rules in place, explains the press release. For an indoor event, the limit is 50% capacity to a maximum of 200, again with physical distancing. Gatherings not run by a recognized business or organization (a family reunion, for example), are still subject to the 50-person limit with physical distancing, unless you’re in your close social group of 10.

The expanded gathering limits apply to social events, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals, and arts and culture events. Guidelines for these types of events are available here.

People can continue to gather in close social groups of up to 10 without physical distancing. People should “maintain a consistent group” and not gather in “random or spontaneous groups of 10.” Businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing can still have no more than 10 people on site at a time.

Also, restaurants and licensed liquor establishments can operate at full capacity, if they can maintain appropriate distancing between tables. (Given that few restaurants were originally designed with two metres between tables, don’t expect your favourites to return to full capacity just yet. —T.J.A.) Private campgrounds can operate at 100% capacity. Public pools can reopen with physical distancing for lane swimming and fitness classes.

Wear a mask
Strang recommends wearing a non-medical mask in situations where you can’t be sure of distancing, such as in stores, on public transit, or at gatherings.

“Reopening our economy and society is important but it also increases risk, so it is paramount that we continue our public health measures to minimize a second wave of COVID-19,” Strang says in a recent press release. East Coast Living offers this simple guide to make your own mask.

Photo: I Love Local

Halifax is back in business
While the pandemic forced many annual events into hibernation, Open City returned on the weekend and is bigger than ever. Rebranded as Reopen City, the event (which formerly happened over one weekend) is continuing on weekends until mid-July, with specials and promotions at shops and restaurants around Halifax. The idea is to bring pandemic-wary consumers back to local businesses.

“What we’ve seen for the last three weeks is that consumers are kind of holding back,” says organizer Gordon Stevens. “There’s a lot of people who are still not comfortable going out. They’ve changed their habits so much. They’ve gotten used to being at home and cooking, and not going out.” Reopen City continues until July 19. Gabbie Douglas reports for Halifax Magazine.

Family reunite at care homes
As restrictions ease, families and loved ones are reuniting at long-term care homes around Nova Scotia. In the last week, the new visitors gazebo at Valley View Villa in Pictou County has been the scene of many happy reunions. “Due to COVID-19, we started the window visits… but after a while you could tell the residents were missing not being able to have an actual conversation,” says recreation director Lisa White. “This outside living space [creates] a familiar environment.” Jackie Jardine reports for The Pictou Advocate.

Richmond County fire fight
Municipal officials from Port Hawkesbury and Richmond County are in a simmering spat over firefighting services at the Point Tupper Industrial Park. Last year, the amount Port Hawkesbury charges the county for the service doubled to almost $50,000 and this year, the bill is set to go up to $75,000.

“While the municipality is willing to pay a reasonable fee that reflects the value of the service provided… it is not willing to fund the town’s fire department,” says a press release from Richmond County, noting that Point Tupper averages three fire calls per year. The county is now looking for other fire departments to provide the service at a lower cost. Jake Boudrot has the story for The Reporter.

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