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No new COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, premier lauds protesters for using masks

Thousands of participants ‘take a knee’ during an event along Spring Garden Road in Halifax Monday, June 1, 2020. The event was held in solidarity to peaceful rallies held in the United States protesting the death of George Floyd last week by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on the man’s neck.
Thousands of participants ‘take a knee’ during an event along Spring Garden Road in Halifax on Monday. The event was held in solidarity to peaceful rallies held in the United States protesting the death of George Floyd last week by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on the man’s neck. - Eric Wynne
HALIFAX, N.S. —

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil took time during Tuesday's COVID-19 update to thank protesters for trying to pay attention to pandemic distancing measures even while gathering to take a knee against racism.

Thousands gathered in downtown Halifax Monday night for the Take a Knee to Make a Stand demonstration in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in the U.S. A police officer has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for pressing his knee into the handcuffed and prone Floyd's neck until he died.

“I was at home with my family in the Valley but I was following online, and I want to say how I was so impressed at how you conducted yourself in the midst of all this pain,” McNeil said. “I was pleased to see most of you in masks. It would have been better if we had been able to self-distance yourself, but you were respectful of one another, you were peaceful, and you made your point very clear. You are fed up, and so we all should be.”

While announcing there were no new COVID-19 cases found in the most recent round of testing, McNeil said it's time to take action on racism, even as he acknowledged that Nova Scotia has its own issues with systemic racism.

“We recognize we need to fight racism, discrimination and inequalities that African Nova Scotians face every day,” he said. “We are trying but we know we need to do more: education, employment and making sure African Nova Scotians see themselves reflected in our institution.

“What happened to George Floyd should never have happened and it should never happen to anyone again. This is a time in our history where we can't go back but we have to move forward and we have to do it together in a loving, caring, thoughtful, equal way. We are all in this together and we need to hold hands and demonstrate to the world that we are in this together and that we respect each other for who we are as individuals and as a community.”

He called the American government's response to the death and subsequent mass protests as “offensive to all.”

McNeil also announced the province's reopening plan for day cares is now complete. Day cares will reopen on June 15.

Licensed child care centres will start at 50 per cent capacity, McNeil said. Family daycare homes will open at full capacity.

A provincial news release said the licensed centres can move up to 100 per cent if they are able to meet public health's COVID-19 guidelines for child care settings.

Reopening plans must include public health measures such as increased cleaning, staggered pick-up and drop-off times, limit the number of essential visitors entering the facility, have children sleep six feet apart during nap time, create groups so the same children are together every day, limit contact with other groups in the centre, and practise social distancing among staff, visitors and other groups when and where possible.

“Our daycares will open slowly and if there are any public health and safety issues, we will immediately reassess,” McNeil said.

The province will also provide hand sanitizer and single-use surgical masks to licensed facilities for the next six months.

Families who can't access their child care space or are not ready to return will not be required to pay fees. Providers will receive funding on a sliding scale until September as they increase their capacity from 50 per cent in accordance with public health guidelines.

McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, also said the number of active cases at the Northwood seniors home in Halifax were now down to just five compared to the 14 reported in Monday's provincial update.

The long-term care home, where 53 of the province's 60 deaths due to the disease have occurred to date, now has only three residents and two staff affected.

The total number of confirmed cases in Nova Scotia remains at 1,057.

The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 532 tests on Monday and is operating around the clock.

To date, Nova Scotia has 42,861 negative test result. Five people are in hospital, two of those in ICU. The number of recoveries now stands at 992.

Cases have been identified in all parts of the province. A map and graphic presentation of the case data is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/data .

Health officials continue to encourage anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to use the 811 online and phone system for screening. You will be sent to an assessment centre if it's believed you have the virus. Click here for a list of symptoms, or go to the province's coronavirus website.

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