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Your only visitor this weekend should be the Easter Bunny says McNeil

'How many more Nova Scotians are going to have to die before people understand this is a deadly virus,' a frustrated Stephen McNeil asked at Thursday's news conference
040920 - mcneil

Stephen McNeil says your only visitor this weekend should be the Easter Bunny.

The premier encouraged Nova Scotians to reach out to the people they love over the holiday, but by phone or video chat instead of in person.

'"If you are thinking of having people over for Easter dinner, do not please. If you are tempted to have the first barbeque of the year and invite your neighbours over, do not please. If you're considering stopping by to show the grandparents what the kids got for Easter, do not please," McNeil pleaded. 

"There will be other Easters, there will be other celebrations, there will be other long weekends."

McNeil started his news conference Thursday by addressing the family of a woman in her 90s who died in Cape Breton yesterday. She is the second person in the province to die as a result of complications related to COVID-19.

"There are no words and there's no ability for us to understand what you're feeling today, but I want you to know we as a province are here for you," McNeil said. "We will be thinking about you over this Easter weekend."

With grocery stores and NSLCs closed on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Saturday is expected to be busy at those locations throughout the province.

Nova Scotians are currently required to keep a safe social distance of 2 metres away from each other, but the premier expressed frustration with photos circulating on social media showing crowded lineups outside of businesses.

"As long as Nova Scotians continue to act irresponsibly and go stand in line at Costco, this pandemic is going to continue to go on," he said. "All we're asking is for people to do is stand 6 feet apart."

He said how well we rebound from this will be determined by how closely we follow public health orders. 

"We just announced a second Nova Scotian family lost a loved one due to this virus, how many more Nova Scotians are going to have to die before people understand this is a deadly virus," a frustrated McNeil asked.

The province's chief medical officer of health said many people are doing their part to protect others, but some seem callous about how the deadly effect this virus can have.

Dr. Robert Strang said Nova Scotia is likely to see its peak at the end of this month.

"How big that peak is, how big the impact is, is in our hands," he explained. "What we're asking people to do ... is critically important to how much we can bring down that peak, how much we can spread it out and minimize the impact on our communities."

Strang said it's okay to be afraid, but knowing there are measures we can take can give us a sense of control during this pandemic. 

He's heard stories of truck drivers and health care workers being shunned because people are afraid they may be carrying the virus.

"We still have some targeting of people from specific groups within our community, somehow under the belief they are the cause of this virus, or they are much more likely to be spreading this virus in our community," Strang said.

He said, as we enter Easter weekend, continue Passover and approach Ramadan, we need caring and compassion.

"Like so many other things right now, these religious ceremonies will need to be very different, no in-person services, gatherings or meals," Strang said. "But they do remain an opportunity for strong, emotional connection and building community virtually."

He said both Easter and Passover are times of hope in the darkest of events, and Ramadan has a strong focus on reflection and service to community.

"I encourage all Nova Scotians, regardless of their faith or point of spiritual connection, to see that as challenging as the pandemic is for you, your family and your community, there is hope and we will recover," Strang added.

"If we focus on caring, kindness, selflessness and building up community, we will get through this and maybe we'll be better. We'll be different, but maybe we can be better."

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