HALIFAX: The following is an excerpt of the speech given by Dr. Robert Strang, Chief medical officer of health for N.S., during the COVID19 briefing.

“If this pattern continues, we may be able to lift restrictions much earlier than March 26.

I know that would be welcome news. 

We will continue to assess our epidemiology over the next couple of days and will have more to say on this on Friday.

This weekend I heard quite a bit of criticism about the restrictions we brought in on Friday.

People are comparing situations and circumstances that are not comparable.

An example: why can’t we play hockey games when people can go play video games at a local arcade?

There is a science to how the virus is transmitted.

Players at a hockey game or other sports are not masked, and they are making contact with other players on the ice.

At an arcade, people are wearing masks, staying physically distanced and sanitizing hands and equipment frequently. The reality is that this is safer than playing in a hockey game.

I need to point out that one of the key factors in the Newfoundland outbreak was a high school volleyball tournament

When I look back at the restrictions we brought in last Nov. 27th, I wished we done that a week earlier.

We may have gotten a better handle on things earlier and maybe the restrictions needed at that time wouldn’t have lasted as long as they did.

When the troubling pattern of positive cases developed last week, along with no obvious source of infections, and the possibility of an easily transmissible variant at our front door, I became very concerned.

I looked at the evidence, the science and the opinions of my very qualified team.

I made a clear recommendation to the Premier. And as much as some people are frustrated by the decision, or maybe don’t understand it, I believe it was the appropriate and necessary decision.

Even more so now that we’ve had 8 more variant cases confirmed.

Luckily those cases do not appear to have spread like we’ve seen happen elsewhere.

I would rather impose restrictions very early, than wait and be too late and have rapidly spreading outbreak of the variant, like what happened in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Are restrictions challenging —  yes!

Are they frustrating for people — yes!

But we have remained a very COVID safe place by acting decisively, quickly, and strongly when we see signs of trouble. 

Doing so minimizes the chances of Nova Scotians becoming critically ill and puts us in a position for the earliest possible recovery. 

Rest assured, we are watching closely and we will adjust our approach when we think it’s safe.

And right now, it’s looking very good.

Nova Scotians have stayed with us so far, so please, hang on a little longer.

We’re getting closer every day to our goal of at least 70% of Nova Scotians vaccinated and when that happens, restrictions should become much less needed.

This is something we will be able to look back on and say, wow look at what we all did to keep each other safe.”