May 5 2021
For the third time, Nova Scotians are facing restrictions due to COVID-19 – with the hardships they entail.
To be clear, the latest clampdown is absolutely needed. The premier and his highly-respected health experts – led by Dr. Robert Strang – have shown leadership and determination to not let the pandemic get the best of us, especially now that vaccines are being jabbed into the arms of Nova Scotians at increasing rates each week.
The provincial government, under both Stephen McNeil and now Iain Rankin, has shown very careful but also pragmatic and common-sense approaches in dealing with the most lethal and unpredictable health challenge of the century.
In the first two waves, the province exercised good judgement in focusing the more stringent rules to areas of the where there was significant outbreak, and fewer restrictions on those areas that showed little or no activity of the virus.
The increase of COVID cases in the third wave is cause for worry but the additional wildcard is the extreme contagiousness of the variant, which has shown to be even more dangerous than the original COVID virus.
So, while the government must always consider the danger the virus presents and the relative ease with which it appears to now be transmitting, especially among younger people, there is always a need to look at area differences in determining next steps.
The numbers will show us the way in easing restrictions, but they could suggest a phased in approach beginning in areas of rural Nova Scotia, such as Guysborough County and the Eastern Shore, where the presence of the virus is low to non-existent.
Restrictions within the hard-hit metro areas of Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) would, of course, only be lifted as the numbers show that it is safe to do so. But perhaps in Sheet Harbour and other rural areas of eastern HRM, restrictions could be lifted earlier – again, if the numbers warrant it.
At the end of the day, we are all in this together and there is widespread trust in the good judgement of our health professionals. That includes their recommendations around social distancing, masks and all the essential protocols.
However, as we get closer to late spring and into summer, when rural Nova Scotia’s seasonal economy comes to life, the government needs to recognize the low incidence of the virus in rural Nova Scotia – if this continues to be the case – and allow rural areas to reopen, where the numbers warrant it.