07 May NOVA SCOTIA BUSINESS & LABOUR ECONOMIC COALITION – CONSULTATION WITH DR. STRANG
Strait Area Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Nova Scotia Business & Labour Economic Coalition (NSBLEC). The group was founded in mid-March to become a point of contact for government as they make rapid decisions, to advocate for business and their employees at this challenging time, to ensure all Nova Scotians are heard and supported, and to eventually assist in the development of a recovery plan. Halifax Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Patrick Sullivan, chairs the NSBLEC meeting three times per week. This group is comprised of businesses, not-for-profits, The NS Federation of Labour, and represents over 1,000 organizations and 200,000 employees.
During a meeting of the NSBLEC on May 6th, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, outlined a phased approach and epidemiological information involved in reopening our economy. This period of extreme difficulty for Canadian businesses has been coined “The Great Shutdown” and it will need a balanced approach to reopening to protect the health and safety of everyone.
More information will be released later this week/early next week, but key points from today’s message to stakeholders included:
- There is no crystal ball to predict dates. With the reopening of some recreational and commercial facility, health officials will be closely monitoring the situation to see if the relaxed measures will result in an increase in the COVID-19 cases. The incubation period is 14 days, and a widely accepted public health practice is to allow for two incubation periods to pass in order to develop a reliable risk assessment on whether or not additional restrictions can safely be lifted. So we could have up to a month between phased steps to return to “normal,” depending on how relaxation measures impact the virus spread.
- If the relaxation of public health orders results in a significant increase in virus spread, those measures may need to be tightened again. We shouldn’t interpret this as a sign of failure, but rather as a learning opportunity for us, and for health officials.
- The approach to reopening will be based on evidence and science; it will be based on criteria and virus activity; it will not be based on dates and deadlines. There are national criteria and provincial indicators being developed that will guide the decisions of policy makers as we look to ending The Great Shutdown.
Government is looking to consult with businesses across all sectors to determine the most feasible approaches for reopening, while protecting public safety. Those conversations have already begun, and we will continue to be involved on your behalf!
During the meeting, there was a strong sense that it’s time for business owners/managers to fast track putting plans in place to reopen. We’re here to help in any way we can as you continue to work out adjustments for your business to operate in our new reality (contact us, or visit our COVID-19 & Your Business Page). J.D. Irving Ltd has released a COVID-19 Work Plan that has very helpful tools and ideas to help you protect staff and customers. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety also has free health and safety tip sheets available online that provide guidance to businesses during the pandemic. The documents provide health and safety tips for both workers and employers and are specific to each industry or sector.