Nova Scotia's modified phase five reopening met with mixed reaction

On the eve of Nova Scotia’s modified phase five reopening, tourism operators are looking forward to the change, but not everyone is happy.

New Brunswick's climbing COVID-19 cases are affecting Nova Scotians. Just ask Kendra Wilson.

“I don't know when I'm going to see my dad again. That's kind of up in the air right now,” said Wilson from her home in Amherst.

There's an outbreak at The Drew Nursing Home in Sackville, New Brunswick, where Wilson's father lives. He's double-dosed but she worries because he has dementia.

“I can't imagine what the effects of COVID would have on someone with dementia and Alzheimer’s,” said Wilson.

Nova Scotia is moving to a modified phase five on Monday—lifting gathering limits at formal events or in restaurants but keeping masks and imposing a vaccine passport to enter places like restaurants, bars or gyms.

“The risk of the virus spreading is not zero but it's much much less among vaccinated people and the risk of severe disease is extremely reduced,” Dr. Robert Strang said in an interview with CTV News Channel on Sunday afternoon.

Tourism operator Dennis Campbell welcomes the change. He’s the CEO of Ambassatours Gray Line and Murphy’s—which runs the Harbour Hopper, Tall Ship Silva and tours to George’s Island.

Having no caps on how many customers can board his boats means a boost for business but Campbell doesn’t plan to revert to pre-pandemic crowds at first. Come Monday, his staff will be tasked with checking everyone for proof vaccine or a medical exemption before boarding a boat.

“So far we haven't had any resistance but will we get some? Perhaps. But we'll just deal with that in a calm, professional manner and again, we just have to over-communicate,” Campbell said.

A crowd rallied on Citadel Hill Sunday to protest everything from vaccines to mandatory vaccines to vaccine passports.

One man told CTV News he’s against vaccine passports because vaccines don’t work. Others carried signs reading “We choose Medical Freedom.”

“I have medical reasons not to get vaccinated. But I also have knowledge of what the vaccines will do to you. And that's being hushed,” said protester Holly Harris.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia has provided doctors with a list conditions that would qualify a person not to be vaccinated and receive a medical exemption.

The list includes people with a history of severe allergic reactions after the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components, as well as people with a history of capillary leak syndrome, among others.

“These are some of the most studied vaccines that have ever existed just in terms of the number of clinical trials and the number of eyes that have been on the data so the idea that every country on the planet is going to release these dangerous vaccines to their population just doesn't make sense,” said epidemiologist Kevin Wilson.

Nova Scotia achieved its target to have 75 per cent of its population double-dosed Friday—a prerequisite to move into phase 5, which will now keep many restrictions in place as Canada grapples with the fourth wave and the more contagious Delta variant.

“I've seen some estimates that total population coverage would need to be something on the order of 90 per cent to achieve those kind of effects,” Wilson said.