UPDATE: On Friday, the province added Mount Uniacke to the list of communities that are under additional restrictions, added gaming closures to the restrictions, and clarified that regulated and unregulated health professions can operate following sector plans. This includes regulated health professions such as dental and physiotherapy and unregulated health professions such as massage therapy and other complementary or alternative medicine providers.
Several communities will be going into "almost a full lockdown" on Friday.
"Our case numbers are rising too rapidly and there is now community spread within Halifax Regional Municipality," said Premier Iain Rankin.
On Thursday, the province recorded another 38 new cases of COVID-19, putting the total number of active cases at 111. Seventy-eight of those are in the Central Zone, which includes HRM.
"Cases haven't been this high since we put restrictions in place in November during the second wave," stated Rankin at a Thursday briefing.
As of 8 a.m. April 23 the following restrictions will apply to all of the HRM, along with Hubbards, Milford, Lantz, Elmsdale, Enfield, South Uniacke, Ecum Secum and Trafalgar:
- the gathering limit is five, both indoors and outdoors
- no social events, special events, festivals, arts/cultural events, sports events, faith gatherings, wedding receptions, or funeral visitation or receptions
- wedding and funeral ceremonies hosted by a recognized business or organization can have five people, plus officiants
- no meetings or training except mental health and addictions support groups, which can have 25 people with physical distancing and masks
- no sports practices, training, games, competitions or tournaments
- no arts and culture rehearsals or in-person performances
- virtual gatherings and performances can be held with a maximum of five people in one location
- restaurants and licensed establishments are closed to seated service
- licensed and unlicensed establishments cannot host activities such as darts, cards, pool and bowling
- retail businesses and malls can operate at 25 per cent capacity and must follow other public health measures
- personal services such as hair salons, barber shops and spas are closed
- unregulated health professions such as massage therapy and other complementary or alternative medicine providers are closed, with the exception of continuing care workers, home-care workers, ocularists and podiatrists
- indoor fitness facilities like gyms and yoga studios and sport and recreation facilities like pools, arenas, tennis courts and large multipurpose recreation facilities are closed
- outdoor fitness and recreation businesses can operate with 25 people and physical distancing
- businesses and organizations offering a wide variety of indoor recreation activities are closed, such as indoor play areas, arcades, climbing facilities, dance classes and music lessons
- museums, libraries and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia are closed, but libraries can offer pick-up and drop-off of books and other materials
- there will be no visitors or volunteers allowed inside long-term care facilities but designated care providers can continue to provide normal service and outdoor visits can be arranged
- all homes licensed by the Department of Community Service under the Homes for Special Care Act cannot have visitors and residents cannot have community access
- all adult day programs for persons with disabilities funded by the Department of Community Services will be closed except for scheduled vaccine clinics at three of these programs
- all adult day programs for seniors remain closed provincewide
- in private indoor workplaces such as offices or warehouses, masks are mandatory effective April 23 in all common areas, places where there is interaction with the public, areas with poor ventilation, and areas where distance cannot be maintained
The restrictions are expected to remain in place for the next four weeks, but they could be lifted early or extended, depending on the epidemiology.
Parks, trails, beaches and playgrounds will stay open, as long as physical distancing and the new gathering limit of five is observed, unless it's an immediate family of more than five people.
Nova Scotians are also being asked to not travel into or out of the affected areas unless it is absolutely necessary. Those essential reasons include school, work, health care, legal requirements and family visitation under the purview of the Department of Community Services.
In addition, students at the following schools will be learning at home for a two-week period.
- Auburn Drive High family of schools
- Cole Harbour District High family of schools
- Dartmouth High family of schools
- École secondaire Mosaïque
- École du Carrefour
- École Bois-Joli
All other schools will continue with in-person learning, however masks will be mandatory for all students.
There will be no community use of gyms in the affected areas until at least May 20.
"These restrictions are meant to be a circuit breaker," Rankin said. "They're designed to curb social activity so we can protect our health care system from surges and keep our vaccine roll-out on track."
"I know that these measures are tough," he added. "But I want to reassure Nova Scotians, we will be working with them to mitigate the impacts that this is having."
Nova Scotia has also tightened its borders. As of 8 a.m. today, all non-essential travellers are being denied entry into the province for four weeks, unless they're coming from P.E.I or Newfoundland and Labrador.