Move vaccine appointments up or restrictions will continue, says Strang –

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said unless people move their second-dose vaccine appointments up, restrictions could continue into September and beyond.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, gives a COVID-19 update on Aug. 4, 2021. 36:05

Nova Scotia might keep public health restrictions in place into September and beyond if too few people bump up their second COVID-19 vaccine appointment, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Thursday.

Strang said while Nova Scotia is among the most-vaccinated provinces in Canada, there are still about 35,000 people who have not yet moved their scheduled second dose to an earlier date.

“I need to be blunt. Whether we have restrictions or not in September is fully in the hands of the Nova Scotians who currently have an appointment booked but have not yet moved it up into August.”

Strang said if everyone who is currently booked for a second dose gets it, Nova Scotia will reach 76 per cent of the population with second doses. But many of those second-dose appointments are scheduled for September and October.

“So if you are eligible and are waiting to get your second dose, please take a minute and move your appointment up,” Strang said at a news conference on Friday.

Nova Scotia is in Phase 4 of its five-phase reopening plan. Phase 5, which is estimated to begin in September, is contingent upon 75 per cent of the population receiving two doses of vaccine.

Strang confirmed in the news conference that entering Phase 5 will mean “most or all” of the restrictions, like gathering limits, physical distancing and masking, will be removed.

Self-isolation requirements could continue into fall

Concerns about the highly infectious delta variant mean Public Health is considering keeping the current quarantine requirements in place for the foreseeable future.

Right now, people entering the province from outside Atlantic Canada must isolate based on their vaccine level, which generally means unvaccinated travellers isolate for 14 days, partially vaccinated people isolate for seven days, and fully vaccinated people don’t isolate at all.

“There’s no final decisions there, but we’re looking at that,” Strang said.

“It’s a principle that we’ve worked from the very beginning. Keeping our borders safe, limiting the chance for the virus to be introduced in Nova Scotia, is a fundamentally important part of our overall COVID response. So we may well need to continue that longer than we thought, at least into the fall, because of this growing concern around a fourth wave.”

No school plan yet

Strang said while Public Health is working with those in the education system to develop a back-to-school plan, details have not been finalized yet. Most public schools in the province return to class on Sept. 7.

“I think if parents and people in the education system are looking for indication, we continue to say, as with all sectors, we will be in a place where we will be removing mandatory measures, removing restrictions. What that exactly looks like in a school setting, we’re still working that out.”

Strang said specifics will be released in the next couple weeks. Other provinces such as Ontario and Manitoba have already released their back-to-school plans.

4 new cases

The province reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the active caseload to 15. The new cases are all in the central zone and are related to travel.

One person is in hospital with the virus, and that person is in intensive care.

Atlantic Canada case numbers