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Nova Scotia's plastic bag ban will come into effect Oct. 30 as planned – HalifaxToday.ca

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In spite of COVID-19, Nova Scotia is going ahead with banning single-use plastic bags by the end of the month. 

The Plastic Bag Reduction Act was passed about a year ago, and Premier Stephen McNeil confirmed at a media briefing on Tuesday, that it will come into effect on October 30 as planned. 

“It will proceed as scheduled,” he told reporters. 

This means businesses will no longer be able to offer single-use plastic bags at the checkout, but instead can offer paper bags, or a reusable one if the customer did not bring their own. 

The provincial Environment Department had been seeking advice from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang on whether reusable bags are a safe option during the pandemic. 

“There’s nothing from a COVID reason that would require them to delay,” Dr. Strang said. 

He added, he did warn the Environment Department that the business community may not want to deal with another hurdle during COVID-19. 

“I also gave them the perspective from the retail sector that because of all the impacts from COVID there was a need to not put another burden, and we could delay that,” he said. 

There are exceptions to the ban. Businesses will still be able to provide plastic bags for things like loose bulk items such as fruit and vegetables; food or baked goods that aren’t pre-packaged; prescription drugs from a pharmacy; and for protecting tires. 

PEI implemented a ban on single use plastics last year, and Newfoundland and Labrador followed suit earlier this month. 

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Manitoba piloting rapid COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers – CTV News Winnipeg

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Public health officials in Manitoba are piloting a project to help reassure health care workers that they are safe when coming to work.

Lanette Siragusa, the chief nursing officer with Shared Health, revealed on Wednesday that public health is piloting a rapid COVID-19 testing pattern for healthcare workers.

“As of last week at the Health Sciences Centre, 150 symptomatic health care workers were tested,” Siragusa said, noting 146 of the workers tested negative for COVID-19, and were cleared to work.

Four of the staff members tested positive, and are now self-isolating.

The goal of the pilot project is to see if hospitals will be able to identify positive tests among staff earlier and help potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 in health care facilities.

Siragusa said the rapid testing is also not a substitute for wearing approved personal protective equipment while working.

She added rapid testing could become important in the coming months.

“(Rapid testing) could prove to be an important tool as we approach the respiratory virus season, when many health care workers may have one or more influenza-like illness symptoms, but do not have COVID-19,” Siragusa said.

The pilot project is currently being assessed by public health, and Siragusa said they will announce more on it in the coming days.

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News Releases | COVID-19 Bulletin #235 – news.gov.mb.ca

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Need More Info?

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.

Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.

Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-794-0732.

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Winnipeg students devastated after COVID restrictions silence school choirs – CBC.ca

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Hundreds of students in Winnipeg have been ordered by the provincial government to stop singing — something a choir teacher says was an ill-informed decision impacting the mental health of students.

“I was just so extremely disappointed because I do not believe the decision was based upon solid ground,” said Maples Collegiate choral teacher Dorothy Dyck.

Since Oct. 26, schools in the Winnipeg metropolitan area and northern Manitoba have been under a code orange in the province’s pandemic response system.

One of the new rules is that indoor choir and the use of wind instruments are not permitted.

That decision is affecting 250 students at Maples Collegiate who participate in six choirs, Dyck said.

Dyck said she doesn’t think Manitoba’s health officials knew all the precautions her school has taken.

“We didn’t get any directive from the province at all,” she said. “We had to figure it out, and so we did. We spent all summer reading, and researching, and waiting for these studies to come out,” she said.

In August, two studies, one from the University of Colorado and one from the University of Cincinnati, looked at how aerosols were spread while singing and playing instruments.

“Out of these studies, things were brought forward for keeping singing as safe as possible, and that’s what we were doing,” Dyck said.

Singing with masks on for 30 minutes in the gym

Along with singing in masks, the rehearsal time was also limited to 30 minutes, something the study out of Colorado found dropped the rate of infection from 87 per cent down to just 12.

The Maples choirs also moved to the gymnasium so everyone could spread out in an open space.

Dyck said the school division’s head of maintenance climbed up into the vents of the gym to get information about the ductwork. A math teacher calculated the air ventilation to determine air was being exchanged every five minutes.

We are as safe as any other activity.​​​​​– Dorothy Dyck, Maples Collegiate choral teacher

“No one is saying that we can guarantee that things are completely safe,” Dyck said. “We now can point to those numbers and know that we are as safe as any other activity.”

A spokesperson for the provincial government says its guidelines on music are based on multiple reports globally where participation in a choir was associated with “super-spreader” events, where COVID-19 was spread to many people.

“Infected people may transmit the virus over greater distances through their saliva or respiratory droplets while singing,” the spokesperson wrote.

To date, there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Maples Collegiate, principal Scott Shier said.

Dyck said the province should take a second look at how schools were running their choirs, rather than just banning them outright.

“They’re kids that are just trying to find their voices,” she said.

She says she worries the pandemic is affecting the mental health of students.

“We see their dead eyes. Their body language: they’re slumped forward, their arms are limp, they don’t really raise their hands when they’re asking questions,” she said.

“We’ve really worked hard at trying to use choir and trying to use singing as breathing life into their bodies and changing their eyes, and we had just started to see some real progress.”

‘Devastated’ at province’s decision

Jashdane Santiago, a Grade 11 student and member of three choirs, said she’s struggling to accept that she can’t sing in choir anymore.

“I was very much devastated,” Santiago said.

Jashdane Santiago, singing in the gymnasium this fall, says choir made her feel like she was flying. Now she says it feels like her wings have been clipped. (Submitted by Jashdane Santiago)

“Being in choir feels like you’re flying. But then with the news saying that you can’t sing anymore, it just felt like the wings that I’ve been flying with were just clipped,” she said.

The choirs already can’t perform, so it was an extra blow to have their rehearsals taken away, she said.

“Everyone had really high hopes that we could still do what we would normally do, but just a bit different than before.”

Javen Cabrera, a Grade 12 student, said he didn’t take the news well either.

“It was heartbreaking,” Cabrera said. “I was confused, hurt, and really angry.”

The pair said they would be happy to take any extra precautions if it meant they could keep singing.

“Singing with other people reminds me that I’m not alone,” Cabrera said.

The superintendent for Seven Oaks School Division said the they are in discussions with the province about the new rules.

“We’re trying to make the province aware of some of the measures the teachers have taken. We’re doing everything we can to keep a strong program going,” Brian O’Leary said.

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