'It's weeks away,' N.S. premier says of end to COVID-19 lockdown

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin doesn't expect the lock-down to end anytime soon.

"It's weeks away," Rankin told CTV Atlantic on Tuesday evening.

One week into a province wide lock-down, Nova Scotia reported 153 new cases on Tuesday, its highest total since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

There are now more than a thousand active cases of COVID-19 and two people in the Halifax area died from from complications related to the novel coronavirus – and it's not clear they even knew they had it.

Rankin says the strict public health restrictions are the key to flattening the curve.

"It has to happen," Rankin said.

Earlier this week, Rankin had strong words for some people who did not follow public health guidelines, and the province has also doubled fines, but when asked what more he's prepared to do he took a diplomatic tack.

"I have faith in Nova Scotians," Rankin said. "We need to do a multitude of things – education, and speak directly to people."

One of the things he wants people to understand is how much more deadly the new variants are than the regular COVID-19 virus.

"It spreads like you wouldn't believe," Rankin said.

When asked about an anti-masking rally on Citadel Hill on the weekend after which no tickets were issued, Rankin said he had a "conversation" with the Halifax chief of police.

He stopped short of criticizing the decision to not issue tickets, but he did make this observation about the crowd: "There was too many people in one spot, there's no question about that," Rankin said.

With the vaccine rollout expanding and more and more age groups becoming eligible each week – first for AstraZeneca and then for mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna – the 38-year-old Rankin is not yet eligible.

When asked if he would take the first vaccine he's offered, he said: "I will."