Facing a growing number of COVID-19 variants, Nova Scotia is shutting down for at least two weeks in what officials are calling a 'circuit-breaker.' (CBC/Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia shuts down to fight rising spread of COVID-19 variants

Nova Scotia is shutting down for at least two weeks to try to stem a growing number of COVID-19 cases.

Today, the province–so long protected from the worst ill-effects of the COVID-19 crisis, courtesy of its membership in the so-called Atlantic bubble–instituted what it is calling a ‘circuit-breaker’ to deal with the presence of the virus’s more transmissible variants.

The tighter restrictions include closing all non-essential retail businesses, reducing gatherings to household bubbles and closing all public and private schools across the province.

Day care facilities are staying open.

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, announced the new measures late Tuesday afternoon.

WATCH | Nova Scotia enters province-wide lockdown:

“We are in a critical race between the vaccine rollout and the variant, and right now the variant is winning,” Rankin said.

As the restrictions took effect, officials today reported 75 new cases of COVID-19.

That was down slightly from a record 96 cases reported Tuesday.

Sixty-seven of the new infections reported today were in the Halifax area.

Nova Scotia currently has 489 active reported infections.

The figures are a long way from the low numbers reported in the province–and across Atlantic Canada–since the beginning of the pandemic in the winter of 2020.

As of today, Nova Scotia has reported 2,215 cases and 67 deaths since the virus arrived.

That compares with the high numbers elsewhere in Canada (348,000 cases and 10,908 deaths in Quebec; 456,000 cases and 7,988 deaths in Ontario, both of which have higher populations).

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, right, and Premier Iain Rankin are pictured fielding questions after a tour of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Halifax on April 16, 2021. On Tuesday, Rankin announced a province-wide shutdown for at least two weeks. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

But it is in keeping with the rest of Atlantic Canada (1,882 cases and 36 deaths in New Brunswick; 1,062 cases and six deaths in Newfoundland and Labrador; 177 cases and 0 deaths in Prince Edward Island).

Those low numbers are attributed to the strict travel restrictions the four provinces imposed on visitors from outside the region.

Nova Scotia’s lockdown comes two weeks after the premiers of the provinces said they were postponing the reopening of the Atlantic bubble because of the growing presence of the more transmissible forms of COVID-19  variants. 

As well today, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Army personnel began deploying across the province to assist at provincial COVID-19 testing centres.

With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press, RCI,


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