Nova Scotia is moving to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions this week, including the mandatory self-isolation period for those who test positive.
In a release Monday, Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said “this is the right time” to remove the remaining rules. They will be lifted on Wednesday.
“Although we expect to see smaller waves of COVID-19 variants over the summer, our high vaccine coverage and low risk of severe disease from Omicron variants make it manageable as we learn to live with COVID-19,” said Strang.
“The pandemic is not over. But Nova Scotians have the tools and resources to make the right decisions to keep each other safe.”
Effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, isolation will shift from being “mandatory” to “strongly recommended” for people who test positive for COVID-19 and those who have symptoms. Currently, people who have COVID-19 must self-isolate for seven days from the positive test or the onset of symptoms.
“It is still important for people with symptoms to avoid high-risk settings and people at higher risk,” the release said.
“If a workplace has occupational health policies that are stricter than the general public health recommendations, such as mandatory masking or isolation requirements, people must continue to follow those policies.”
Most restrictions in high-risk settings, such as health-care facilities, will remain, the release said.
Also effective that date, guidance on the use of masks will shift from “strongly recommended” to “optional,” though they are still strongly recommended for those who are ill or in a crowded outdoor setting.
It is also still strongly recommended that those who have COVID-19 symptoms but cannot self-isolate to wear a well-fitted mask in indoor public places, on public transit and in crowded areas.
“It is each person’s own decision whether to wear a mask, weighing their risk factors and comfort and those of people around them,” the release said.
Testing and high-risk settings
The province said those who have symptoms will still have access to COVID-19 testing at centres across the province, but testing will no longer be offered to those without symptoms.
As well, those with symptoms who are in a low-risk category in their self-assessment will only have access to rapid tests, and will not get a PCR test — even if they test positive on a rapid test.
Higher-risk people and those who work or live in a higher-risk congregate setting can still access PCR testing.
Rapid tests will continue to be available for pickup at public libraries and MLA offices, but those who are sick should not go, the release said.
As well, designated visitors and caregivers in long-term care, corrections, and shelter and transition house settings will no longer need proof of vaccination to visit. They will also be able to remove their masks when visiting a private area or while outdoors.
The seven-day isolation for residents who test positive for COVID-19 will still be required, the release said, and the COVID-19 mandatory vaccination protocol for high-risk settings remains in place.
Move to monthly reporting
As well, beginning this month, the province will shift to a monthly COVID-19 report, which will be posted online. The province had been producing weekly reports since March, and daily updates before then.
“The report will be produced on the 15th of every month and reflect the COVID-19 epidemiology in the province for the previous month,” Monday’s release said.
“The first monthly report will be for June and will be available on July 15.”
The COVID-19 dashboard will continue to be updated weekly, the province added.
In its latest weekly report last Thursday, Nova Scotia reported four deaths linked to COVID-19, 1,491 new lab-confirmed cases and 28 hospitalizations.
More to come.
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