HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's government on Wednesday said children aged 11 and younger could no longer travel out of province for events related to sports and culture, citing rising COVID-19 transmission connected to those activities.
Individuals, businesses and organizations in Nova Scotia would also be prohibited from hosting sports, arts and cultural events involving out-of-province children aged 11 and younger — effective immediately — health officials said.
Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, said the idea behind the travel restriction is to add another "layer of protection" around the age group as the province begins its pediatric vaccination program.
"This will allow a greater possibility of kids being able to remain in school through December and to participate in activities here in Nova Scotia," Strang told reporters.
He said the restrictions would not prohibit children from participating in sports inside the province or from journeying outside Nova Scotia to be spectators at such events.
The travel restriction would remain in place until at least early January, when it will be re-evaluated, Strang added.
Officials reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The figure included 16 cases identified in the province's northern zone, 16 in the Halifax area and three in the western zone. Strang said the cases in the northern zone were mainly due to a cluster of cases in an unidentified "localized community." He said there was also a number of cases among children under 12.
"That is impacting some schools, especially now in the Truro, N.S., area, but we have not yet had to close any schools," he said.
Meanwhile, the first shots of the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were being administered Wednesday at pharmacies in the province and at the IWK Health Centre, Strang said. The government had originally targeted Thursday for the roll-out.
"About 30 per cent of that age cohort as of Monday had already booked their appointments," Strang said. He added that there is enough capacity within the health system to administer first doses before Christmas to at least 80 per cent of eligible children.
Nova Scotia has 203 active reported cases of COVID-19.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2021.
The Canadian Press