COVID-19 Roundup: Widening sidewalks, reopening plans & concerns, wine fairies deliver

Yesterday, May 25, Nova Scotia confirmed another new case of COVID-19. The province has had 38,458 negative test results, 1,051 positive COVID-19 test results, and 58 deaths. There are six pandemic patients in hospital, including three in ICU; 974 people have recovered.

Changing how people get around
HRM is preparing changes to the transportation network as part of an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. According to a press release sent yesterday, the Halifax Mobility Response: Streets and Spaces plan will adapt the use of streets, sidewalks and bike lanes in response to public health directives.

The first phase begins this week with sidewalk widening. 

  • Spring Garden Road: Sidewalks will be widened between South Park and Queen streets by removing parking and loading spaces. Two-lanes of vehicle traffic will be maintained at all times. Bus stops 8330 and 8336 on Spring Garden Road will also be temporarily closed while these measures are in place.
  • Quinpool Road: The northbound sidewalk will be widened between Quingate Place and Monastery Lane by removing parking and loading spaces on this section of Quinpool Road. Bus stop 8138 on Quinpool Road will also be temporarily closed while these measures are in place.

“These changes are intended to provide space for people to keep moving, not to gather,” says the press release. “Bicycles should continue to be used on the designated street section only.”

Traffic signals have been modified to reduce wait times at pedestrian crossings. The following corridors have been completed: Quinpool Road, Street, Robie Street, Joseph Howe Drive, Bedford Highway (Bayview Road to Civic #50), Dunbrack Street, Almon Street/Connaught Avenue, Bayers Road (Oxford to Windsor streets), Young Street.

Temporary loading spaces have been created in specific locations across downtown Halifax and downtown Dartmouth. See here for more information. All changes are scheduled to be done by May 29.

“As the need for social distancing will remain in place for the foreseeable future and how people move will change throughout the recovery phase, the municipality will continue to identify required adaptations to the use of its streets, sidewalks and bike lanes,” says the press release.

Reopening plans
Unlike other provinces, Nova Scotia doesn’t have a public reopening plan, but Premier McNeil says the province is on track to have many businesses open soon. “We’re feeling about where we are,” he said in Friday’s media briefing. “I have confidence in your ability to operate under these new conditions and that’s why I think we’ll be ready in early June.”

At the same time, the province will test for a wider range of COVID-19 symptoms. “The expanded symptom list is being adopted by all provinces and territories,” says Dr. Robert Strang in this Jake Boudrot story from The Reporter. “As we move out of the first pandemic wave, it remains important to test anyone who has symptoms.”

Reopening concerns
Even as Nova Scotia celebrates the apparent end of the pandemic’s first wave, the World Health Organization is warning that the next outbreak could be closer than people realize.

In a press briefing on Monday, Dr. Michael Ryan cautions that from a global perspective, the first wave is still going strong.

“We need to be also cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time,” he says. “We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now, that it’s going to keep going down and we’re going to get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.”

Matt (left) and Mitch Benvie. Photo: Cooked Photography

Fitness evolution
At Evolve Fitness, owners Matt and Mitch Benvie rely on hands-on training and lots of face-to-face support and encouragement. They had tried virtual sessions, but didn’t enjoy them. Then the pandemic hit and they were forced to quickly adapt.

In this new Halifax Magazine report, Chris Stoodley explores how they’ve used their trademark enthusiasm to continue meeting clients’ needs, while also building a $65,000 fundraiser in support of local business. “There’s a lot of things we could be complaining about right now but there’s a lot of things we should be thankful for,” Matt Benvie says.

Wine fairies deliver
With people stuck at home during the pandemic, “wine fairy” groups have popped up in several communities. People register to give and receive gifts like wine, candy, and self-care products. It’s a simple little gesture, intended to make people feel connected and valued.

Melissa Cyr helped organize a Pictou County group after her good experiences with a previous group. “I personally loved being a fairy in the other group and spreading a little happiness,” she says, “and wanted to give everyone the chance to spread the joy and maybe receive a little too.” Heather Brimicombe reports for The Pictou Advocate.

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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