Nova Scotia to test Halifax bar staff and late-night patrons for COVID-19

Nova Scotia health officials are advising all bar staff and late-night attendees to get tested for the coronavirus regardless of symptoms.

The strategy was announced last week as Nova Scotia saw a rise in cases of COVID-19, particularly in one demographic.

“Let’s call this what it is: We’re having a problem with 18- to 35-year-olds… They’re living as if COVID doesn’t exist,” Premier Stephen McNeil said on Friday. He said the main issue is going to bars with multiple social circles at a time.

A rapid testing strategy for asymptomatic staff of bars and restaurants in Halifax kicked off this week.

Read more: Nova Scotia reports 11 new COVID-19 cases on Monday

In a Tuesday release, the province additionally called on anyone who may have attended a bar in the HRM after 10 p.m. in the last two weeks to book a test for COVID-19.

“Most of our recent cases of COVID-19 have been among young people who have been to late-night bars and restaurants,” Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said in the release.

“This broad testing initiative will help us detect new cases early, get people who test positive to self-isolate and stop the spread of the virus,” he said.

Individuals who have attended a Halifax bar, even if they don’t have symptoms, are asked to complete the self-assessment form and schedule a test.

These individuals do not need to self-isolate while waiting for results if asymptomatic. But Strang reminds to limit the number of close contacts.

“This is one tool in our toolbox, but it does not diminish how important it is for people to tighten their social circles and activities and follow public health measures.”

Click to play video 'Downtown Halifax Business Commission talks COVID-19' 5:56 Downtown Halifax Business Commission talks COVID-19

Downtown Halifax Business Commission talks COVID-19

Testing for asymptomatic staff and patrons will be made available through booked appointments only until Monday, Nov. 30.

“This isn’t about blaming or shaming,” Strang said in the release. “The important thing right now is that people come forward so we can identify as many cases of COVID-19 as we can and take action to reduce the spread.”

Nova Scotia health officials are expected to provide an update on the coronavirus in the province at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Read more: Nova Scotia to provide provincial update on coronavirus

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