Starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Nova Scotia restaurants like The Old Triangle will be able to resume normal business hours. The province is entering Phase 2 of its COVID-19 reopening plan.
“It’s a good step to come back to life,” says owner Brendan Doherty. “I think the overall confidence that it will give the general public coming back, seeing that we are able to operate at normal hours, I think that will be very beneficial to us.”
Gathering limits for informal outdoor activities will be 50 people without masks or social distancing, up from 25 previously. The limits for informal indoor activities remain at 25.
Services such as hair salons, spas and tattoo parlors will be able to operate at 100% capacity with mask and distancing requirements.
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Bars and restaurants can operate at 75% capacity and accommodate up to 25 visitors per table. Establishments must still maintain a physical distance of two meters between people at different tables, the province says.
Live music and dancing with face masks will also be permitted in licensed establishments.
Retail businesses will be able to operate at full capacity from Monday, but customers must wear masks and maintain physical distancing. Food courts can operate at 75% capacity.
Phase 2 also means before and after school programs can operate with up to 30 people in each individual group without social distancing.
Performing arts and organized sports attendees can gather up to 60 people without social distancing for rehearsals, shows, practices, games and tournaments.
Large event venues of at least 100,000 square feet, such as the Scotiabank Centre, can operate at 75% capacity for up to 5,000 people while enforcing physical distancing and mask-wearing.
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The same goes for Center 200 in Sydney, and Gerard Shaw, the team chairman, says the potential for more fans is good news. But so is being able to eat or drink in your seats, rather than going to a designated area, he says.
“It’s important for the sites, important for us too,” he says. “It’s part of the whole entertainment experience.”
Shaw agrees that public trust will be essential.
“We’ll be doing polls and talking to our fanbase about how you felt about the install in the games we’ve had, if there’s anything we can change to encourage a better experience and that people feel more comfortable, we will definitely do that,” he said.
He says they will encourage people who want to wear their masks and let people move to other seats if they feel safer.
Religious organizations, mental health support groups, government organizations, and other organized clubs can operate at 75% capacity, up from 50% in Phase 1. Religious services can operate at 75% capacity. the hall and congregational singing will continue to be permitted with masks.
Cinemas can also operate at 75% capacity, and eating and drinking will again be permitted. Masks are mandatory but can be lowered to eat or drink while seated.
Museums, libraries, art galleries, bus and boat tours can operate at full capacity with masks on.
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As of February 28, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is not required to participate in any of these activities that bring people together.
Nova Scotia is set to lift all COVID-19 restrictions starting March 21.
This is the date Doherty, owner of The Old Triangle, has circled on his calendar.
“We’re looking forward to this one a lot. I think we’re finally at the point where people are allowed to make their own decisions,” he says. “Among us I have a lot of staff who will continue to wear their masks, I will probably also when with people.
“But honestly,” he says, “it’s going to be really nice not having to be the COVID police anymore.”
Public health still recommends people wear masks, even after restrictions end.
— With files by Karla Renić
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