This update was posted morning of March 23, 2020. The situation is changing by the hour. Please check the Canada, Nova Scotia and Halifax websites for the most up to date information, and follow the social media links below.
The information below no longer entirely up to date. All relevant info from these updates has been compiled into my COVID-19 resources website, with information on current Government Response, Individuals & Families, Business as well as Links to Resources including key social media to follow.
Thank you all so much for your patience and compassion as this situation continues to rapidly evolve.
After a week I know people want to know “what happens next?”
A lot of programs have been announced and there has been a lot of good work do, but not every person and every business is covered (yet), and not every situation is settled (yet). And people want to know how long will this go one, what is the medium term plan, what is the recovery plan?
It is always hard for any politician or leader to say “I don’t know” but I don’t know. We don’t know, not yet.
Now that immediate needs have taken care of, housing, food, safety, containment, focus is turning to these broader less immediate concerns. I am confident that over the next week more programs will be developed and orders issued to help address concerns for small business, the homeless, commercial mortgages, low income, all the folks who are falling through the cracks, but it just takes time.
Hang in there. I wish I had all the answers. Keep asking the questions and we will keep working to get those answers, as fast as we can.
But here is why I am hopeful.
State of Emergency, the Hammer and the Dance
My wife laughed yesterday at my response to the Premier’s announcement of the State of Emergency. My arms shot up in the air and I shouted “yeaaaaasss” like Canada had just scored on the USA in Olympic Hockey or something. But I really do think that was the right move.
I’ve been sharing this article “The Hammer and the Dance” for the last few days, it contends that very strong measures now “should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way.”
There are two alternatives for Halifax is Nova Scotia.
There is the one we want, if and when we pull this off, where we should be able to return to a new normal, like Taiwan already has. People in Taiwan “continue to go to work, to school and out shopping as normal since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but now with some precautions in place — such as regular temperature checks and hand sanitizer dispensers outside most public buildings and protective masks.”
There is the one we are striving to avoid, which is Italy. Focusing on trying to keep shops and restaurants open for a few extra days, “people were still out and about, frequenting bars, restaurants, parks and beaches. With no school or university, teenagers and students took the opportunity to socialise more with friends” and a week or two into their crisis cases spiked and the health care system was overwhelmed. Thousands have died, and thousands more will die.
So I say again – I strongly support declaring a State of Emergency.
Yesterday Dr Strang reported that the QE2 microbiology lab can now definitively test and no has longer send sample to be confirmed in Winnipeg. A few days ago he said the goal is 500 tests a day, which is more tests per day for the size of our population than South Korea (roughly 1 per 1900 to ROKs 1 per 2500). This is very exciting. I expect that in a couple of weeks we will see who can be tested broaden, assuming these other measures have the intended effect.
Dr Strang also said during the press conference “It is not at time to react with fear but lets approach this what I call the three Cs, caring, community, and common sense.”
This is my quick transcription of what was announced yesterday, please check the official provincial website for the most detailed and up to date info.
- Groups of 5 people only
- provincial border restricted – anyone who has travelled outside the province will need to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/provincial/nova-scotia-border-to-be-restricted-as-of-6-am-monday-428043/
- border control introduced at the ferries in Digby and North Sydney, the airports in Halifax and Sydney, and the land border with New Brunswick.
- Exceptions for essential services, like trucking, health care and law enforcement
- State of Emergency order enables the province to enforce directives
- Does not replace authority of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
- Extend the powers to control assembly (groups) and coordinate emergency response between private and public sector
- Police can and will now enforce orders under the Health Protect Act
- People and businesses will now faces fines for violating orders under the Health Protection Act
- Social distancing is now the law, and police are authorized to enforce the order.
- Summary Offence Tickets can now be issued, fines for individuals $1000 for each fine, for each day, businesses and corps $7500 in the first instance, and each day after.
Businesses can also be fined for charging higher than fair market price for goods and services. More info on the SOE here.
More Resources and Information
More important than ever to help your neighbours.
One resident wrote me to say “I am picking up groceries and drugs for an elderly neighbour. When I first called her she had run out of bread and milk several days before. She’s been here since the mid 60s but she cannot understand complex English sentences nor quickly spoken simple ones. She has only a radio and TV, no computer. She did not understand me when I said to call me if she needed anything, today I find out her prescription has been sitting at Lawton’s for 10 days and she hasn’t medicated for 2 days; obviously I have to phone her regularly.”
Please, check on your neighbours. Call them, email them, knock on their doors (with a cleaned, gloved hand), step back two meters and say hello, and offer to help.
Parks and Trails
The provincial State of Emergency order reads “Provincial and municipal parks and beaches are closed to all.” In HRM most municipal trails are all legally parks. Staff are working on getting trails open, will probably require clarification from the Minister. We are working on it. https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/Direction-of-the-Minister-under-a-Declared-State-of-Emergency-March-22-Signed.pdf…
Transit Service Changes and Operator safety
Halifax Transit is operating on reduced service effective today. You can read about it here and on the Halifax.ca site. I’ve had a number of residents ask me about safety of the drivers, especially after reading about the head of their union’s statements in the media over the last few days.
I want to assure residents that safety of HRM staff is paramount, and that the precautions that have been taken to protect bus operators have been reviewed by the Medical Officer of Health who found “we are satisfied that you have implemented every precaution that is currently reasonable from a public health perspective to mitigate the risk presented by COVID-19 for your employees, by doing what is reasonable to maintain a safe work space for those who are designated to come to work.”
To say I am disappointed by misleading statements about driver safety is a huge understatement. You can read a copy of the MOH letter here.
Mental Health Resources
It is ok to feel not ok! If you need to talk to someone these resources are toll Free for all Nova Scotians 24/7. Mental Health Crisis Line 1-888-429-8167 Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
Parent Navigators and Schools Plus support for HRCE can be found here: https://www.hrce.ca/news/2020/03/16/covid-19-update-families and for CSAP families here: https://csap.ca/informations-sur-le-coronavirus-covid-19
How Long Does the Coronavirus Last on Surfaces?
Researchers looked at how long the virus can survive on cardboard, plastic, and stainless steel, as well as after being aerosolized and suspended in midair.
Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide
Whether you managed to stock your fridge and pantry, or were left staring at empty supermarket shelves, there’s good news: you can still eat safely, even from restaurants, provided you follow a few basic guidelines. Article starts with what we know about the virus, followed by some basic rules to safely shop, cook, and order food. https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/03/food-safety-and-coronavirus-a-comprehensive-guide.html#reheating-food
Door signs for those at risk
If you are in a high risk category you may wish you may consider posting a sign on your front door warning people – Gardengypsyadelaide posted these signs on her Facebook Page – feel free to share and print one of these for your front door. https://www.facebook.com/gardengypsyadelaide/posts/3184468971565451
Halifax ReTales: list of restaurants with delivery, shops with gift cards
Arthur Gaudreau, better known as ReTales, has been tracking the goings on of the Halifax retail and restaurant scene fore years. He has been working his tail off (pun intended) maintaining two lists, one is the list of open local businesses that are doing pick up or delivery http://covid19.retales.ca/, and the other is local businesses that would LOVE to sell you a gift card so they have some cash to help survive this crisis. http://locallove.retales.ca/
Of note for local business, I saw that Trident is delivering ground coffee and quiches, cookies, pastry, and loaves to your door for reasonable prices. I am ordering today! More here: https://www.facebook.com/tridenthalifax/
Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!#NovaScotia’s #farmersmarkets are moving online, and they could use community support as we move rapidly to support our local farmers and producers while helping to provide food and necessities to Nova Scotians. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfooRE2Mqndkb8sRDrudB4bLQbm3H-WQccH8qs28YrAx4SZwg/viewform
Because we are all so COVID-19 focused you might not have seen that there will be snow tomorrow – Snow will start Tuesday morning and then change to rain by late morning or afternoon over mainland Nova Scotia. The snow will mix with rain in the afternoon over southern Cape Breton. Over northern Cape Breton and portions of northern Nova Scotia the snow will persist into the evening. Along the Atlantic coast rainfall amounts of up to 25 mm are likely but higher amounts are possible. Snowfall amounts of 5 to 10 cm are generally expected however a slight change in track could give higher amounts.
Privacy and health
Everyone is reminded that tenants have the right to privacy regarding health issue at all times. As such, property owners and managers may not collect or share information regarding tenants health, including whether tenants may have come in contact or be confirmed to have COVID-19.
No Evictions for Three Months
The provincial order is “No tenant can be evicted because their income has been impacted by COVID-19 (effective for next 3 months).” People are not required to be sick with COVID-19.
Maple is a Shoppers Drug Mart program that connects you with doctors and other healthcare providers online, via text, audio, or video. You log in, request a visit, and within minutes you’ll be matched with a doctor (some specialists offer bookable appointments). These visits work just as they would if they were in-person: the doctor can examine you as needed, ask questions about your symptoms, go through your health history, and determine a diagnosis and treatment plan. If they think your condition is more serious, they may tell you to go to a clinic for an in-person, hands-on examination. There may be a fee for service, though it is free for the remainder of today (March 23)
Participatory Budgeting 2020 cancelled for 2020/21
The health and wellness of residents is HRM’s main priority. Due to public health concerns over the COVID-19 virus, the District 7 2020 Participatory Budgeting Information Session on April 8th and the Vote Night on May 11th has been cancelled and may be rescheduled at a later date.
Halifax Citadel has suspended firing the Noon Gun for the duration of the crisis, but they have put a video up for you to watch if you miss it too much. https://twitter.com/HalifaxCitadel/status/1240991036937326594
Extensive resources here for businesses impacted by COVID-19.
For information on coronavirus and how Nova Scotia is responding
For information on what Halifax is doing to support the response:
Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Being prepared
Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel advice
Deeper Dive into more detailed resources:
Federation of Canadian Municipalities – in depth list of Federal resources and links to every province
Word Health Organization – Coronavirus info from the global agency responsible for health.
Public Health Agency of Canada