Dr. Robert Strang. (Communications N.S. photo)

HALIFAX/EAST HANTS: As a result of the low case numbers during the Christmas holidays, the province has announced that restaurants and licenced establishments in areas of Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County can reopen for dine-in service beginning Jan. 4, 2021.

In a release, the government said these establishments in HRM, Enfield, Elmsdale, and the Mount Uniacke regions must follow the province-wide restrictions, including ending service by 10 p.m. and closing by 11 p.m. They can continue takeout and delivery service with no restrictions.

The Halifax casino and VLTs remain closed.

“Tonight would normally be a time to get together in large groups for a countdown and celebration,” said Premier Stephen McNeil in a release. “We cannot do that this year because we know how important it is to keep our gatherings small and follow all the other public health protocols.

“As you look forward to 2021, remember the strength, kindness and love that got you through this difficult year and carry it over into the new year. We can all have a sense of hope with the COVID-19 vaccines coming online.

“I wish all Nova Scotians a safe, healthy and happy new year.”

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, was pleased to see the continuation of low numbers, but warned Nova Scotians not to become complacent.

“We can’t let down our guard, especially tonight when many people would normally have a party,” said Dr. Strang. “Let’s keep our gatherings small or virtual as we celebrate all we’ve accomplished together in 2020.

“I wish all Nova Scotians a happy new year and ask for your continued help to accomplish even more in 2021.”

As of today, Dec. 31, Nova Scotia has 22 active cases of COVID-19. Three new cases are being reported today.

All three cases are in Central Zone. One is a close contact of a previously reported case and two are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

There were six recoveries between Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 reporting as well.

It was also announced that COVID-19 case reporting will take a brief pause during the upcoming holidays.There will be no data updates or news releases on Jan. 1, 2 or 3, except in unusual circumstances.

On Jan. 4, data will be updated and a news release issued.

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,203 Nova Scotia tests on Dec. 30. There were 736 tests administered between Dec. 29 and 30 at the rapid-testing pop-up sites in Halifax.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 113,560 tests. There have been 397 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. One person is currently in hospital. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 70. Three hundred and seventy-five cases are now resolved. Cumulative cases may change as data is updated in Panorama.

Public health guidance for holidays and celebrations can be found at https://novascotia.ca/protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus/holidays/ .

Visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to do a self-assessment if in the past 48 hours you have had or you are currently experiencing:
— fever (i.e. chills/sweats) or cough (new or worsening)

Two or more of the following symptoms (new or worsening):
— sore throat
— runny nose/nasal congestion
— headache
— shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

Call 811 if you cannot access the online self-assessment or wish to speak with a nurse about your symptoms.

When a new case of COVID-19 is confirmed, the person is directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days. Public health works to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with that person.

Anyone who has travelled outside of Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days. As always, anyone who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better.

It remains important for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health order and directives – practise good hand washing and other hygiene steps, maintain a physical distance when and where required. Wearing a non-medical mask is mandatory in most indoor public places.

The premiers of all four Atlantic provinces are cautioning against non-essential travel into neighbouring provinces. Currently, all non-essential travel into Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador requires a 14-day self-isolation. All public health directives of each province must be followed. Under Nova Scotia’s Health Protection Act order, visitors from outside Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days unless they completed their self-isolation in another Atlantic province.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .

Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen and operate at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia .

Quick Facts:
— testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22, 2020 and extended to Jan. 10, 2021
— online booking for COVID-19 testing appointments is available at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/

Additional Resources:
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus

Government of Canada information line 1-833-784-4397 (toll-free)

The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)

If you need help with a non-crisis mental health or addiction concern call Community Mental Health and Addictions at 1-855-922-1122 (toll-free) weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)

For help or information about domestic violence 24/7, call 1-855-225-0220 (toll-free)

For more information about COVID-19 testing and online booking, visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/