Roundup: COVID numbers jump—new restrictions, Hfx loses a landmark, making news more accessible, Deborah Robinson re-elected Acadia chief, fighting housing crunch

Workers demolish the Mills Brothers building on Spring Garden Road. Photo: Janet Whitman

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 numbers had their biggest increase since April, with 37 new cases added in the latest government update. As of yesterday (Nov. 24), the province has 87 known active cases of COVID-19.

Thirty-five of the new cases are in the Central Zone; a case in the Northern Zone is connected to exposures in the Central Zone. There was also a case identified yesterday at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, in the Western Zone. The school is closed for the remainder of the week.

New COVID rules
Yesterday, Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, announced new public health restrictions.

Premier Stephen McNeil. Photo: CNS

“COVID-19 is moving quickly in Halifax, and we need to stop it from spreading further into Nova Scotia,” McNeil says in a press release. “We must bring COVID-19 under control before our health system is overwhelmed.”

New restrictions start Nov. 26, continuing at least until Dec. 9.

The government is asking Nova Scotians to avoid non-essential travel in and out of western and central HRM (Hubbards to Porters Lake, plus Elmsdale and Mount Uniacke in Hants County) and to other Atlantic Provinces.

The following rules are also new for western and central HRM.

  • The gathering limit in public is five (or up to the number of members of an immediate family in a household).
  • Masks are mandatory common areas of multi-unit residential buildings, such as apartment buildings and condos.
  • Restaurants and bars are closed for in-person dining but may provide take-out or delivery.
  • Retail stores must restrict shoppers and staff to a maximum of 25% of normal capacity.
  • Wineries, distilleries, and breweries can’t hold tastings or in-person dining and must follow retail rules in their stores (delivery and curbside pickup allowed).
  • Organized sports, recreational, athletic, arts and cultural, and faith-based activities are paused.
  • Recreational facilities are closed.
  • Libraries and museums are closed.
  • Gaming establishments are closed.
  • There will be a crackdown on illegal gatherings, including ticketing all attendees.

Schools, after-school programs and childcare will remain open. Personal services such as hairstylists, estheticians, and nail salons can stay open but can’t offer procedures that require a patron to be unmasked.

The following new restrictions apply across the province.

  • No visitors except volunteers and designated caregivers are allowed at long-term care and rehabilitation centres.
  • Sports teams are restricted to local play only.
  • No extracurricular activities allowed between schools

Staff, volunteers and designated caregivers at long-term facilities in HRM will undergo voluntary, bi-weekly testing, starting Nov. 27.

“These measures are targeted to reduce the situations in which COVID-19 thrives,” Strang says. “Go to work or go to school, then go home and stay there. One family member can shop for necessities. It will likely get worse before it gets better.”

Photo: Janet Whitman

Razing a landmark
Workers tore down the iconic Mills Brothers building on Spring Garden Road yesterday, clearing the way for the Micco Group’s new $100-million building, that they say will have commercial space and luxury apartments.

News Out Loud
A community newspaper and the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library are teaming up to make local journalism more accessible to people with visual impairments. The weekly News Out Loud recording offers a selection of stories from The Pictou Advocate (which, like Halifax Magazine, is owned by Advocate Media).

“We are lucky to be able to combine a love of the library with some recording studio magic and lend a hand,” say Gord and Cheryl Stenrud from Sea Level Sound. “Hopefully people who may not be able to access a hard copy of the paper will give it a listen.” Learn more in this Pictou Advocate story.

Chris Benjamin. Photo: Niki Davison

‘Build that empathy muscle’
When writer Chris Benjamin was assembling his recent short story collection Boy with a Problem, he struggled to find a thematic link for the tales.

“The best I could come up with was a lot of stories about underdogs and outsiders,” he recalls. “Eventually, I explained my problem to a writer friend of mine…she suggested loneliness as a theme… because some of these characters are privileged, middle class, and doing well in life. However, they are still feeling isolated, lonely for some reason, or just disconnected.”

He tells Ameeta Vohra about it in this new Halifax Magazine story.

Deborah Robinson

Deborah Robinson re-elected
Deborah Robinson’s 23-year run as chief of the Acadia First Nation continues with her Nov. 21 re-election. Todd Labrador, a member of the Wildcat First Nation in Queens County, drew 283 votes, 48 behind Robinson.

Acadia First Nation is a Mi’kmaw Nation spanning counties from Yarmouth to Halifax. Included are six reserve: Yarmouth, Ponhook, Medway, Wildcat, Gold River, and Hammonds Plains. Acadia also has separate land holdings in Gardner’s Mill and Shelburne. Kevin McBain reports for LighthouseNow.

Antigonish affordable housing agreement
Municipal councillors in Antigonish have approved an agreement to create 12 new affordable housing units in the community (which currently has 14 units).

The Antigonish Affordable Housing Society is spearheading the project. “It continues to build on the… society’s good work in our community,” says Warden Owen McCarron. “We’re really looking forward to the construction. They’re a tremendous group of volunteers doing a lot of good work for the community. Drake Lowthers has the story for The Reporter.

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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