By Patrick O'Neil
Updated June 3, 2020
Nova Scotia will soon be open ... kind of.
The Province of Nova Scotia announced this week that certain businesses, previously mandated to pause operations under the Health Protection Act Order, are permitted to reopen on June 5, 2020. It is important to note that while businesses will be permitted to resume operations, it remains critical for businesses to adhere to social distancing guidelines and gathering limits, as directed by the province. If social distancing cannot be maintained, businesses must limit the customers to the gathering limits as directed by the province (increased to ten people on May 29).
Businesses that will be permitted to reopen as of June 5 include restaurants, bars, hair salons, veterinarians, and gyms, among others.
Certain health care providers (for example, dentists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists) are also permitted to resume operations June 5, provided that the guidelines approved by public health have been implemented. Associations representing businesses previously directed to close by the province in the Health Protection Act order were directed to develop sector-wide plans, which must be approved by government officials. Businesses who are represented by these associations are encouraged to consult with their association for more information.
For those businesses who are not represented by an association or are unregulated and were ordered to close by the Public Health Order must create a plan and submit this to the province for approval at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Businesses who were not ordered to close are strongly encouraged to develop a plan to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, and this plan should be reviewed with employees of the business, but is not required to be approved by the province.
Stopping the Spread of COVID-19
As a result of the continued efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, many businesses will be forced to adapt their workplace to ensure that both staff and customers or clients are able to comply with social distancing. To aid in this effort to restart the economy, the province introduced the Small Business Reopening and Support Grant. This $25 million dollar fund will provide aid to many small businesses that will undoubtedly be faced with a landscape that looks very different from pre-COVID-19. Applications for the Small Business Reopening and Support Grant open on June 1.
Some common examples implemented by businesses in order to promote social distancing include placing directional arrows or ‘stand behind’ lines to remind staff and customers of the appropriate social distance to be maintained.
In addition to social distancing, businesses must ensure that the workplace and place of business maintains high levels of hygiene, including frequent hand washing (or availability of hand sanitizer), cleaning or disinfecting high tough surfaces and wearing masks in situations where social distancing can be difficult.
The commentary referred above illustrates the unchartered waters that we are facing collectively as we attempt to balance the continued focus on stopping the spread of COVID-19 with the gradual re-opening of the economy.
This article is for information only and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions regarding strategies or precautions particular to the reopening of your business or would like further information, you should contact a lawyer.