Roundup: Still no new cases, larger groups allowed but not govt committees, calling for sexual-assault response funding, rallying against racism

Premier Stephen McNeil. Photo: Communications N.S.

Nova Scotia hasn’t confirmed a new case of COVID-19 since June 9. To date, the province has had 1,061 positive COVID-19 cases and 62 deaths. There continue to be two active cases, both hospital (including one in ICU).

New gathering limits
In yesterday’s media update, the government announced changes to gathering limits. “We’ve now had well over a week with no new cases of COVID-19 and low rates for the last several weeks,” says Premier Stephen McNeil. “”Our aim is to safely open as much of the economy and our province as we can… The core measures of social distancing and good hygiene that have kept case numbers low will stay in place.”

People can now gather in groups of up to 10 without physical distancing. People in a group aren’t required to be exclusive but “are strongly encouraged to maintain a consistent group,” says the announcement. “This is especially important for Nova Scotians who are more at risk of complications from COVID-19. This change replaces the concept of family household bubbles.”

Gatherings of up to 50 will now be allowed but people must observe physical distancing of two metres. The larger gathering limit of 50 applies to social events, faith gatherings, sports and physical activities, weddings, funerals, and cultural events. Businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing are limited to 10 people on site at a time. Playgrounds can reopen.

But still no government committee meetings
While easing restrictions, McNeil refused to consider reconvening the legislative committees that oversee the government’s work. “But I’m not willing, quite frankly, to put at risk the health and well-being of Nova Scotians to satisfy a committee meeting,” McNeil says.

He didn’t explain why it’s safe to get a haircut, eat in a restaurant, or attend a small concert, but unsafe for government committees to meet. Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada where the legislature hasn’t met in some form to discuss the government’s response to COVID.

South Shore groups call for sexual-assault response funding
Several South Shore organizations (Second Story Women’s Centre, Be the Peace Institute, Harbour House, and South Shore Sexual Health) are calling for funding for trauma-specialized counselling service, similar to what’s available in other regions to respond to sexual assaults.

They say there’s still a lack of follow-through help for victims and survivors. “In the past few years, the public mental health system has stopped offering counselling to people who have survived sexual violence unless they meet specific criteria,” says their press release. “The public system often refers victims to non-profit services-which are now overworked and unable to meet the increased demand because there has not been a meaningful increase in funds.”

And now that distancing restrictions have eased, they say they’re expecting “a flood” of new clients. “With the pandemic precautions for the past two months, conditions of social isolation, the most powerful weapon for violence in the home, have intensified the danger for women, children and gender oppressed people at home with an abusive person,” they add. Gayle Wilson reports for LighthouseNow.

Photo: N.S. Archives

When Halifax was Canada’s richest city
In the late 1800s, Halifax was the richest city in Canada, home to dozens of millionaires and in the midst of frenzied building boom. Immigrants flooded through the city en route to Western Canada.

It was a heady time of growth and in the midst of it all, an unassuming shoemaker was about to spark a transformation of his own. “Most Nova Scotians’ boots and shoes came from the U.K. and U.S.,” writes Dorothy Grant. “But in 1868, a man named Robert Taylor began making boots and shoes in his Granville Street shop, hiring 40 shoemakers.” By 1890, he had a five-storey factory employing 180 people. Travel back in time in this new Halifax Magazine historical report.

Cape Breton rallies against racism
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, people around the province are continuing to protest racism and police brutality. Recently, 100+ people gathered in Port Hawkesbury for a march.

Steven Googoo, a band councillor from We’koqma’q First Nation, reminded attendees that it’s not just an American problem. “In 2014 you had a Caucasian male… who shot six RCMP, killed three in Moncton and he got out of it alive,” he says. “Yet six weeks ago, you have a 26-year-old Indigenous woman shot down—not just shot, shot five times—on a wellness check.” Jake Boudrot has the story in The Reporter.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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