Roundup: Long-term care homes open to visitors, tourism operators adapt, musicians supporting venues, sewing through COVID-19

Train Station Inn, Tatamagouche.

There are no longer any active cases of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, according to the latest update from Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang. They also say there were no new confirmed cases anywhere in Nova Scotia. Overall, there have been 1,061 positive cases and 62 deaths. Provincewide, there are five active cases.

Easing visitor restrictions at care homes
McNeil and Strang also announced that government is relaxing visitor restrictions for long-term care homes and homes for people with disabilities. Effective June 15, visits can resume, if they’re outdoors and visitors stay two metres from residents and staff.

“I can only imagine how tough it has been for long-term care residents and participants in homes for persons with disabilities to not be able to connect with their loved ones,” says Strang. “Outdoor visits are a way to bring residents and their friends and families back together safely.”

  • Visits can only happen outdoors in designated areas.
  • Residents are only allowed two visitors at a time.
  • Visitors must keep two metres distance from residents and staff.
  • Workers will screen visitors for COVID-19 upon entry. Visitors must wear masks.
  • To ease contact tracing if there’s an outbreak, workers must log visitor information.
  • People who are self-isolating can’t visit.
  • Staff will monitor visits, escort people to the designated area and providing protective equipment if needed.

Heritage under siege
Since 2009, developers have demolished at least 33 potential heritage buildings in Halifax. Over the next decade, that total could climb to 100+. “Halifax has experienced significant growth, which is a good thing,” says heritage planner Elizabeth Cushing. “However, our policies and plans did not foresee ways to accommodate the growth and did not incorporate strong heritage policies.”

The result is weak, inadequate, and under-enforced protections for the city’s architectural legacy. Advocates are urging governments to create stronger protections and to preserve heritage sites not as artifacts, but as functional living buildings. “There’s a difference between an animal in the wild, an animal in a cage and an animal that’s stuffed,” says Andrew Murphy, president of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia. “The animal is the wild is the perfectly restored heritage building but it has a good use and you get the essence of that building.” Katie Ingram reports for Halifax Magazine.

Tourism operators adapt
In a typical year, the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche would see about 40,000 visitors (combining the inn, café, and gift shop). This year, owner Jimmie LeFresne is expecting around 10,000. Typically, visitors are from Ontario, Europe, and the U.S. Most of those bookings have cancelled, so this year, he’s hoping locals will come explore the unique accommodations (refurbished historic rail cars).

“When the locals would call up for a room before, we’d be booked,” he says. “Most of our visitors will book their trip a year in advance… This is the opportunity for Nova Scotians to be able to travel throughout the province and stay in one of our rail cars. This opportunity wasn’t afforded to them before.” He tells Raissa Tetanish how he’s adapting his business in this report for The Light.

Bruce Guthro

Songwriters connect to support venues
For several years, Bruce Guthro has been bringing local talents together for his Songwriters’ Circles, to explore their craft and entertain audiences. The pandemic ended the live shows, but he’s now bringing them together virtually to support the venues where they’d normally perform.

There will be 14 ticketed online shows (featuring guest artists like Natalie MacMaster, Myles Goodwin, J.P. Cormier, Ria Mae, and Johnny Reid), with 15% of the revenues supporting partner venues. “Artists are coming in to help other artists and to help theatres and to help everybody,” Guthro says. “We’re all in this together.” For more, see Jackie Jardine’s story in The Pictou Advocate.

Sewing her way through COVID-19
Before the pandemic hit, East Coast Living editor Kim Hart Macneill hadn’t had her sewing machine out of its box in a decade. Isolated at home, with too much free time and powerless, she got it out and began making masks.

In the new issue of East Coast Living, she describes how taking the step helped her through some of the spring’s darkest days. “Weeks of lockdown were solitary and at times lonely,” she says. “Sewing masks occupies my hands and my mind… The simple task offers a tangible finish.” From that, she created an easy DIY guide to mask making, that became one of the magazine’s most-read posts of the year.

Need to know
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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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