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Rankin reveals longer lockdown

The province won’t reopen until at least the second week of June.

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On Wednesday, May 19, premier Iain Rankin announced a longer lockdown for the province of Nova Scotia. While the official press release says “the second week of June,” the premier more specifically said June 9 at today’s COVID-19 update.

“I’m sorry to say that we are going to be extending the shutdown in the province another couple of weeks,” he said.

While the new restrictions were originally set for the month of May, the premier said the extension was necessary because cases aren’t dropping as fast as we’d like. “We do still have high case counts, although they’re starting to come down slowly,” Rankin said. “I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to most that we are still watching this very closely.”

Rankin said “we’ll be able to be in a better place come mid-June,” adding that schools would continue online learning for the rest of the school year, and more supports for parents would be announced next week.

Chief medical officer of health Robert Strang also said numbers weren’t going down as fast as he’d hoped, with 83 new cases today.

“The new case numbers are slowly dropping, so we are making progress,” he said. “We knew this would be a slow decline because of the large number of cases we uncovered when we did a surge of testing in the Halifax area.”

Strang said summer could still look better for Nova Scotians, but only if everyone follows rules for the next few weeks. “We need to get our numbers much further down before we can begin slowly reopening,” he said.

Thankfully, when we do decide to open up, Strang says we already know how. “There’s a lot of work we did a year ago after the first wave which is very instructive,” he says. “And one of the things we learned in Nova Scotia is that taking a slow cautious approach actually paid off.”

At this point, a reopening date is speculative, but both Strang and Rankin indicated that Nova Scotians can hope to return to masked, physically distant shopping, gathering outdoors, and potentially attending outdoor events and festivals this summer.

“We’re still going to have to stay in relatively small groups throughout the summer,” said Strang. “But we are looking at how we can open up a whole range of activities including sports and arts and culture activities, doing that in the way that’s the required level of safety based on the virus epidemiology and the level of uptake of vaccine.”

For businesses, Rankin said he hopes to have more information in about a week, but any plan must be flexible. “We expect soon to come out with a strategy of re-opening,” he said. “We understand that people want to see some certainty in what a summer looks like.”

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