Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has officially declared a state of emergency in the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective 6 a.m. Monday, the borders of Nova Scotia will be tightened, with screening processes at all points of entry to the province. Anyone who has travelled outside of the province will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
““I cannot allow a certain level of Nova Scotians to disregard the order of the Chief Medical Officer or law enforcement when it comes to ensuring we protect the health and safety of all Nova Scotians, and that is why we were forced to do what we are doing today,” said McNeil during Sunday’s press conference.
The province also announced seven newly identified cases of COVID-19. All seven new cases are travel related. The total is now 28 presumptive or confirmed cases in Nova Scotia.
Dr. Robert Strang says that as of now, the microbiology lab at the QEII Health Sciences Centre can now confirm presumptive cases as positive or negative, and presumptive cases no longer need to be sent to Winnipeg for confirmation. Strang says nearly 2100 tests have been completed in Nova Scotia.
While all cases have been related to travel or close contact, Strang says he expects community spread will happen soon.
“Everyone is at some level of risk. There is severe disease occuring at almost all ages,” said Strang during Sunday’s news conference.
Police in the province are also now authorized to enforce social distancing, said Justice Minister Mark Furey. People and businesses who are found breaking rules of self-isolation and social distancing, will be subject to summary offence fines.
“We have no choice but to call upon the police and law enforcement agency to enforce self-isolation and social distancing,” said Furey during Sunday’s announcement. “Starting immediately, police have the authority to issue summary offence tickets to people who are not adhering to Dr. Strang’s order to self isolate or adhere to social distancing.”
There will be two summary offences; one for an individual failing to comply to an order from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and one for a business failing to comply to an order from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The fine is $1000 per day for individuals, and $7500 per day for businesses. Individuals and businesses can be fined on multiple days.
As part of the state of emergency, McNeil says effective immediately, Nova Scotians cannot gather in groups of more than 5. Provincial parks are closed effective immediately and anyone who goes there will be treated as trespassing, and have their vehicles towed.
“Over the weekend I saw and heard of far too many incidents of people gathering, blatantly disregarding the social and physical distance rules of staying six feet or two meters apart,” said McNeil. “We are dealing with a deadly virus and this behaviour is unacceptable.”