Nova Scotia is set to drop almost all COVID-19 restrictions and lift its state of emergency on March 21.
But Dalhousie University plans on following its current guidelines until at least late April.
Provincial restrictions lifting
This means no more gathering limits, social distancing or masking. On Feb. 28, proof of vaccination was also removed. The only areas where restrictions will stay in place are health facilities such as hospitals and long-term-care homes.
In a press release from the province, Dr. Strang said, “This does not mean COVID-19 is gone. There is still lots of virus in communities, and as we lift restrictions, our choices and actions become even more important.”
At the Feb. 23 COVID-19 briefing, Houston said, “Now, it’s time to stop pulling the big levers, like broad restrictions, and shift to personal actions and responsibility.”
Dalhousie University has decided to take up some of that responsibility and continue with certain regulations.
Dalhousie keeping restrictions
On March 2, Dalhousie announced it will be keeping some of the restrictions for over a month after the province lifts them.
Masking and proof of vaccination will still be in effect at Dalhousie until April 30. Masks will continue to be required in classrooms, libraries, the Dalplex and all common spaces. The exception to this rule is residence.
Students in residence will not be required to wear masks in hallways or common spaces in their buildings.
However, most occupancy restrictions at Dalhousie will be lifted with the province’s on March 21.
Room occupancy, dining hall restrictions, elevator occupancy and vehicle occupancy will all lift in late March. This will also change certain layouts and arrangements of furniture in common areas. Furniture was moved during the pandemic in order to encourage social distancing.
More enhanced restrictions like plexiglass barriers and consistent sanitization will continue until April 30 and possibly longer.
Provost and vice-president academic Frank Harvey did not respond to an interview request from the Dalhousie Gazette to discuss the university’s decision.
In his announcement on March 2, he wrote, “This will be a significant change, one that everyone will react to differently. But what has not changed is our responsibility — as individuals and as a university community — to look out for one another.”
What do students think?
The lifting of restrictions marks roughly two years since COVID-19 arrived in Nova Scotia. Some are thrilled to see this monumental change in policy come about, others fear we’re loosening up too fast.
First-year commerce student Matt Daigle said he’s excited to see restrictions disappear.
“I get that it’s a controversial opinion, but as someone who’s been in residence during all this, I just want to have some of the full experience before I’m done first year,” said Daigle.
“I’m looking forward to the social aspects of res life. I’m looking forward to not getting fined if I forget my mask on the way to the bathroom. I’m excited to go dance in a bar. I cannot wait to just dance.”
Third-year computer science student Nour Ali is more nervous about the province re-opening.
“It’s kind of relieving knowing things could go back to normal, but I’m worried we’re rushing,” said Ali.
“I don’t feel comfortable going into places knowing people aren’t vaccinated or are unmasked.”
Ali said they don’t plan on going straight to the bar on March 21.
“I’m still going to be cautious, I’ve had COVID but I’m still scared of contracting it again or spreading it. I’d rather just stay safe than put myself at risk.”
When it comes to Dalhousie keeping restrictions for a little longer, Ali is slightly more reassured.
“I feel better knowing that Dalhousie is keeping a lot of the restrictions, I know we want to get back to normal but I think it’s good to ease back in.”