COVID-19 Roundup: Another death, reopening day, help for farmers, waiting for graduation plans

Yesterday, June 4, Nova Scotia reported another COVID-19 death, raising the provincial total to 61. The victim was a man in his 70s with underlying medical conditions, living in the Central Zone. He wasn’t in a long-term care home.

“I recognize the public health measures make it difficult for families and friends to grieve,” Premier Stephen McNeil says in a press release. “We must remain vigilant and continue to support our neighbours as our province begins the work to recover from COVID-19.” Nova Scotia has had 1,058 confirmed cases of the disease, with 995 recoveries.

Reopening day
Many Nova Scotian businesses that government ordered closed during the pandemic will be reopening today, including dining rooms, hair salons and barbers, fitness facilities, and bars. The household bubble and distancing rules remain in effect, so things are going to be different than you remember.

Most spots will be operating at greatly reduced capacity, with new protective equipment. Some businesses will require customers to wear masks, as is right. (And yes, they can legally refuse service if people refuse). Here you can find the reopening plans for each sector, to give you an idea what to expect.

And a reminder: be compassionate and tip generously. Workers don’t like wearing masks any more than you do. They’d love to be able to offer you the experience you remember. (When a restaurant closes half of its tables, those servers are losing half their tip income).

Businesses are reinventing their operations. Things you want won’t be available, there will be long waits, you’ll need appointments for lots of services that used to be walk-in. There will be hiccups aplenty. Your best bet? Accept that the world has changed and roll with it. Consumer-affairs columnist Peter Moorhouse
has more advice on navigating the changes in a recent Halifax Magazine post. —Ed.

Throwing farmers a lifeline
The provincial and federal governments have announced a new COVID-19 Response and Mitigation Program for farmers. The program will help with the costs of meeting extra health requirements, plus fund projects to maintain competitiveness, productivity, and profitability, according to the announcement.

“This support package will help farmers manage risks that are currently threatening the viability of their farm operations and our food supply system,” says Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell. “We need a strong agriculture sector and by taking these steps, we are helping our farm families improve their competitiveness, productivity and profitability at a time of significant change.”

Charities seeking support
Many charities rely on a couple big events each year to fund their work and most of those events are cancelled. Big Brothers Big Sisters Pictou County saw their Bowl For Kids Sake event cancelled in April but the group has rolled on with virtual events and fundraising appeals. While donations are down, the group has been pleasantly surprised to get as much support as they have. “Our initial goal was $65,000 and after COVID hit I said I’d be thrilled with $25,000,” executive director Margie Grant-Walsh says of a recent campaign. Jackie Jardine reports for The Pictou Advocate.

Awaiting graduation plans
Around the province, the Class of 2020 (and their anxious parents) are still waiting to hear what graduation ceremonies will look like. “We’d love to be able to do something with our students, but at the same time we have to be very mindful of the restrictions around COVID-19, and no gatherings above a certain number,” says Paul Ash, regional executive director with the South Shore Regional Centre for Education.

Ash tells LighthouseNow that talks about the graduation ceremonies are ongoing and was expecting a decision on graduations soon. “All we can say in terms of a commitment that’s been made so far is that the Minister of Education has said that 2020 grads will have an opportunity to graduate once that is safe,” he says. “We’re just trying to figure out right now if there’s going to be some interim plan in place to acknowledge the end of the year.”

Need to know
Know a community group, good cause, or inspiring local story we should share? Email the editor.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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