Covid-19 Roundup: Many biz reopening June 5, McNeil promises 2,000 jobs, kids and mentors stay connected

Premier Stephen McNeil. Photo: CNS

Yesterday, May 27, Nova Scotia confirmed one new case of COVID-19. The province has had 1,053 confirmed cases of the disease and 59 deaths. There are seven people with it in hospital, including three in ICU; 975 people have recovered.

Back in business
Yesterday, Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced that businesses closed by public-health orders will be able to reopen on June 5.

“Businesses must follow protocols in the plan that is tailored to their sector,” says the government press release. “This includes following public health protocols to ensure physical distancing, increased cleaning and other protective measures for staff and customers.”

That includes:

  • Restaurants.
  • Bars, wineries, distilleries, and taprooms. “Lounges” aren’t allowed to open. (What’s the difference between a bar and a lounge, you ask? Good question. They don’t say, but promise to clarify the rules in the coming days. —Ed.)
  • Personal services, such as hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons, and body art establishments.
  • Fitness facilities, such as gyms, yoga studios, and indoor rock climbing. 
  • Veterinarians.

Other health providers can also reopen on June 5, if they follow protocols in their colleges’ and associations’ plans, as approved by public health. This includes dentistry and other self-regulated health professions such as optometry, chiropractic, and physiotherapy, plus unregulated health professions such as massage therapy, podiatry, and naturopathy.

“I’m impressed by the comprehensive plans I have reviewed so far,” says Strang. “They clearly show these sectors are taking the health of their staff and the public very seriously and it gives me confidence they can reopen while mitigating public health risks.”

Planning to reopen daycares continues, with a target of June 15. “But the reopening date will be confirmed and shared with Nova Scotians once the plan is fully approved,” says the press release. (This presents a real conundrum for many single parents who will be expected back at work at least 10 days before they have child care. Yesterday, McNeil said he expects “organic” child care solutions to emerge. Whatever that means. —Ed.)

Despite the reopenings, existing public health directives around physical distancing and gathering limits remain in place. People must keep two metres apart and not gather in groups of more than five.

Normal is gone
When businesses reopen, it won’t be the way it was. Stores will limit the number of customers, workers will be wearing protective equipment, return and exchange policies will be different. Some businesses will add COVID surcharges. In this new column for Halifax Magazine, Peter Moorhouse looks at what you can expect. And has some simple advice: “Be patient and understanding with workers. Respect the requests that businesses make of you… In these trying times, start with the trust that most people are trying to do what’s right.”

Money for reopening
The provincial government also announced a $25-million fund to help businesses, non-profits, charities, and social enterprises reopen. “The program will provide grants to help them open safely and business continuity vouchers for advice and support to become more resilient in the coming months,” says the announcement. Applications open June 1. Government plans to post more details here.

Premier promises 2,000 jobs
Premier McNeil says that a new $230-million government economic-stimulus program will create “up to 2,000 local jobs.” The spending is aimed at projects where work can start right away.

“As the private sector turns to reopening their businesses, the province has a role to play in getting people back to work,” McNeil says in a press release. “It’s time to address the economic impacts of COVID-19 and… support the economy and create thousands of jobs across Nova Scotia.” 

Earmarked projects include road paving, work on gravel roads, replacing six bridges (including two in HRM: Clam Harbour and Meagher’s Grant), renovations at the Halifax provincial court, school and museum repairs, waterfront upgrades, work on four small-options homes, upgrades at NSCC campuses, and dyke rehabilitation at sites around the province.

Keeping kids and mentors connected
While the pandemic has eliminated face-to-face contact, the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters goes on, as kids and their mentors stay connected virtually. And as a morale boost for their “littles,” the South Shore chapter recently spent the day delivering bags of fresh produce and art supplies to some three dozen kids in their area. “We wanted to make sure everyone was still engaging in some type of activity to keep their minds going,” explains coordinator Danielle Wile. Keith Corcoran reports for Lighthouse Now.

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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