As cases continue to climb and with community spread likely taking place, tighter restrictions are returning to the Halifax area.
The affected area encompasses the western half of HRM from Hubbards to Porters Lake and also includes Mount Uniacke, Enfield, Elmsdale and Lantz.
As of 8 a.m. Saturday:
- restaurants and licensed establishments must stop service by 9 p.m. and close by 10 p.m.
- faith-based gatherings can have 150 outdoors or 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 100 indoors
- wedding ceremonies and funerals can have 10 people including the officiant but there can be no wedding receptions and no funeral visitation or receptions
- sports events, special events, arts and culture events and festivals are not permitted
- sports practices and training and arts and culture rehearsals can have 25 people without physical distancing but there can be no games, competitions, tournaments or in-person performances and there can be no spectators
- there can be no more than 25 people involved in a virtual performance, including performers and people managing the recording or livestream
- business and organized club meetings and training can have 25 people - physical distancing is required except when emergency responders need to be closer than two metres for training
- residents in long-term care homes can only have visits from their designated caregivers and can only leave for medical appointments or for a drive
"The sudden increase in cases in the last two days has been seen throughout Halifax," said Dr. Robert Strang at a Friday briefing. "We have cases with an unknown source in Dartmouth, Spryfield, Bedford, peninsular Halifax, Sackville and Beaver Bank."
"The troubling aspect is we are seeing consistently that people are socializing frequently and in multiple social groups in a given week."
Strang said he knows how disruptive it will be to have these protocols in place for the second time in three months, but he believes they are necessary to create a "circuit breaker" to stop the spread.
"COVID-19 is a social virus so we need to focus our restrictions to limit social activities," he explained.
"We're trying to strike a balance and we hope that people will listen, understand and lean in to make the necessary adjustments in the choices for themselves, for their families and their communities."
Nova Scotians are also once again being asked to avoid all non-essential travel into and out of the affected area.
"Essential travel is okay. If you have to travel in and out for work, for medical purposes, if you've got legal or child custody issues, that's fine," Strang stated, however shopping trips or visits with family and friends in other parts of the province are not.
The tighter restrictions are in place until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 26, however the doctor cautioned we'll all need to go above and beyond if we don't want to see them extended.
"If you're socializing in large or a variety of different groups in different settings, or socializing without masking, you need to stop. If you're going to work with even one mild symptom, you need to stop," Strang said. "If you haven't made testing part of your COVID-19 precautions, you need to start."