Mixed messaging as Nova Scotia prepares to enter Phase 5 in October

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Nova Scotia is scheduled to move into Phase 5 of its recovery plan on October 4 if all goes according to plan.

At that time, the province is requiring mandatory vaccinations for anyone using non-essential services like restaurants, bars and gyms.

Gym owner Jackie Kellestine is concerned about a lack of communication between the province and the business community, making it unclear how the vaccine policy is to be handled moving forward.

"We pulled membership lists, pass holder lists, trying to see if we can integrate something into our scheduling software," says Kellestine, "reaching out to our staff, making sure they know to expect something."

“We know that there is a vaccine passport coming. We haven’t been told anything other than that, so the direction for me, I have nothing to tell my staff, I have nothing to tell me. I assume it’s going to be mandatory, that seems to be clear," Kellestine says.

Michael Chambers runs a surf and hobby shop. He says there is also a lack of continuity around the COVID-19 rules.

“Every time we turn around the rules seem to be different. When I go to different places I find that the rules don't apply the same as somewhere else," says Chambers.

Social distancing and masks will also no longer be required and that is a concern for some.

”As an infectious disease doctor I certainly have some challenges with the idea of masks going away on the 4th,” says Dr. Lisa Barrett.

Barrett says testing will continue to be an important weapon against COVID-19, even in Phase 5.

"Take home tests, especially in areas where there’s a virus circulating are definitely something we need to continue to consider as a key part of keeping community virus levels low," says Barrett.

Phase 5 was originally set to begin on Sept. 15 but was delayed because of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the province.