COVID-19 Roundup: No new cases yesterday, easing restrictions, campgrounds open, parents eager to plan graduation

Photo: Tourism N.S.

Yesterday, May 31, Nova Scotia didn’t confirm any new cases of COVID-19. The provincial total stands at 1,056 confirmed cases and 60 deaths. There are currently seven people in hospital with the disease, including two in ICU; 981 people have recovered.

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia continues to warn of COVID’s danger. “As we create more opportunities for Nova Scotians to regain some normalcy in their lives, it’s important that we all continue to take protective measures like good hand hygiene, cough etiquette and staying home if you’re sick,” he says. “It’s also important for people to think about their own health and circumstances in order to make good decisions about the activities they choose to do.”

Easing restrictions
On Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced more steps to reopen the province. 

People can now gather in groups of up to 10. Physical distancing of two metres is still mandatory (outside your household bubble). The limit also applies outdoors, except at outdoor weddings and funeral services, which can have 15 people. 

“The gathering limit applies to things like social gatherings, arts and culture activities like theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity,” says the announcement. “It also applies to businesses whose main function is gatherings, such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities, and to businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing.”

Campgrounds open
Strang and McNeil also announced that starting June 5, private campgrounds can open. They must operate at 50% capacity, following public health protocols and ensuring adequate distance between campsites.

Provincial campgrounds will open on June 15, with the reservation line opening June 8. They will operate at a reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between campsites 

N.S. Folk Art Festival

The summer of nothing
For communities around the province, summer events are critical tourism draws. They give out-of-province visitors a reason to stick around and spend money and they encourage Nova Scotians to explore closer to home. This year, the event calendar is wiped clean.

On the South Shore, cancellations include long-running events like Chester Race Week and the Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival in Lunenburg are on pause. In the latter case, it’s a particular blow to the artists who rely on the summer festival circuit and are anxiously hoping events return next year. “We have over 50 returning artists waiting in the wings as well as eight artists who were going to show their work for the first time at the festival,” says organizer Sue Kelly. Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

Parents eager to plan graduation
With traditional graduation ceremonies impossible, people are wondering how they can celebrate the Class of 2020. Education department spokesperson JoAnn Alberstat promises plans are in the works but doesn’t offer any specifics.

Meanwhile, some parents are calling on the education department to step back and let the community figure it out. “Parents are ready and eager to help but have been told they cannot proceed with planning any officially sanctioned graduation activities,” says John Ouellette in this story from The Reporter. “Trust us to get this right. Let parents, students, and schools figure this out.”

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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