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Sixth Wave gets COVID test funding, Nova Scotia hoteliers get tax break

The exterior of hotel rooms at Cabot Links in Inverness. Construction is about to begin on luxury villas at the nearby Cabot Cliffs course. 
Contributed
The Cabot Links hotel complex is seen in Inverness, Cape Breton. Hotels, motels and inns that qualify will get a 25 per cent rebate on their 2020-21 commercial property taxes as part of Nova Scotia's COVID-19 support program. - Contributed/ File

Nova Scotia announced tax relief Thursday for the accommodations sector to help with COVID-19 recovery. 

Hotel, motel and inn operators will get a 25 per cent rebate on their 2020-21 commercial property tax. The Tourism Accommodations Real Property Tax Rebate program opens Nov. 16.

"We know that hotels, motels and inns have immediate cash flow needs because of the decline in visitors due to COVID-19," said Business Minister Geoff MacLellan in a news release. 

"They are facing commercial tax bills assessed on the previous year's revenues with a significantly reduced ability to pay. This is another in our range of response programs designed to fill gaps in federal programing."

To be eligible, a business must meet the definition of a roofed accommodation as set out in the Tourist Accommodation Registration Act, be registered as a host under the act, have more than five rooms and have paid their tax bill in full.


NOVA SCOTIA TOURISM STATS

  • Nova Scotia's tourism industry is expected to generate $900 million in 2020, compared to nearly $2.7 billion last year
  • Accommodations operators experienced on average a 56 per cent decrease in the number of room nights sold to the end of August over the same period in 2019
  • The industry employs about five per cent of Nova Scotians, or about 50,000 people
  • Federal and provincial pandemic-response programming for the tourism industry to date includes wage subsidies, rent assistance, grants, business continuity vouchers and access to low-interest rate loans and credit
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As well, the business - for the period from April 1 to Oct. 31 - must have incurred a revenue loss for room accommodation of greater than 30 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. 

Those not in business before April 1, 2020, may still be entitled to a rebate if they can demonstrate lower than 50 per cent occupancy rate since opening their business.

"This program is a great first step in opening conversations with the province about the need for relief that can assist us at this time," said  Megan Delaney of the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia in the release.  

"Our role as the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia is to continue to work with the province. The hotels need relief that will not only sustain us now, but that will work towards the regeneration of our industry in the future."

No new cases reported

All of the latest COVID-19 tests turned out negative for the second day in a row, the Nova Scotia Health Department said Thursday.

The number of active cases also has dropped. There were four cases reported Thursday on the province's coronvavirus data site compared to five yesterday.

There were 915 COVID-19 tests done on Wednesday. 

The province has launched an online booking service for tests beginning in the central zone. People who are deemed in need of a test after taking an online symptom assessment will be given a code that can be used on a booking page.  

The move means people won't have to leave a message for the booker and then wait for a phone call, said Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said at a briefing Wednesday.

He said the online booking program will be rolled out for the rest of the province over the next two weeks. 

To date there have been 1,102 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, 65 deaths, 1,033 resolved cases and 110,723 negative tests. 

Anyone who has experienced fever or a new or worsening coughs in the past 48 hours can do the self-assessment at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/.

The self-assessment should also be done if someone has had any two of these symptoms that are new or worsening: sore throat, runny nose or nasal congestion, headache or shortness of breath. Anyone who can't access the online assessment or wants to speak to a nurse about symptoms can call 811.

COVID testing project gets boost

In other COVID-19 news Thursday, Nova Scotia researchers have received $250,000 from the province for their rapid testing research. 

The nanotech company Sixth Wave has begun the second phase of its research into a rapid detection test for COVID-19 and other viruses.   

The test is called AMIPs, short for Accelerated Molecularly Imprinted Polymers, which uses a "smart mask" to detect the virus. 

"Using the AMIPS technology, we anticipate accurate Rapid Virus Detection testing within minutes," the company said in a news release. 

"This mask would be re-usable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and be a low-cost virus detection method for the everyday user."

Sixth Wave is working on a proof of concept for the smart mask that it expects to have ready within 90 days.  

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