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Passengers wear face masks on a Halifax Transit ferry as it arrives in Dartmouth, N.S., on July 24, 2020.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia is making mask-wearing mandatory in most indoor public places beginning July 31 – even for performers singing at concerts.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said today the measure is necessary to minimize any potential second wave of COVID-19.

The indoor places where masks will be mandatory include retail businesses, shopping centres, hair salons, places of worship, sports facilities, elevators, hallways, and common areas of offices.

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People entering restaurants or bars will have to wear a mask until they begin eating or drinking.

Dr. Strang says people leading religious services or performers at concerts will have to wear masks even while speaking or singing, adding athletes should wear masks indoors except during an activity where a mask cannot be worn.

Masks will also be required in the public areas of a university or college campus, such as the library or student union building, but not inside classrooms, labs, offices or residences.

Face coverings will also be expected in train and bus stations, ferry terminals and airports. Children under two years old are exempt, as are children aged two-to-four years old when their caregiver cannot get them to wear one. People with a valid medical reason for not wearing a mask are also exempt.

Strand told a news conference: “It’s time to make a habit of wearing a non-medical mask in most indoor public settings. It’s our best chance to keep our communities as open as possible as we move into the fall and a possible second wave of COVID-19.”

Strang said businesses can refuse entry to customers not wearing a mask, unless they are among the small group who for medical and other reasons are exempt from the requirement.

He said he expects the vast majority of citizens will voluntarily comply. “Are there going to be some people who don’t (wear masks)? Yes,” he said. “But we have to come at it from a positive, constructive approach and one way is to ensure access to masks isn’t an issue.”

“Taking a strong, heavy-handed enforcement approach isn’t going to work in a situation like this,” he said.

A hospital in the southern French city of Lyon is testing patients with a new machine that enables them to breathe into a tube to see whether they have COVID-19 in a matter of seconds.


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