Top News

Strang defends handling of Irving executives' quarantine exemption

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, arrive for their COVID-19 news briefing on Thursday.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, arrive for their COVID-19 news briefing on Thursday. - Communications Nova Scotia



Nova Scotia’s top public health officer has defended his handling of a quarantine exemption for three Irving Shipyard executives. 

Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, initially approved a plan that exempted the executives from having to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from a business trip to the United States. 

The executives, which included shipyard president Kevin McCoy, instead agreed to restrictions including tests for COVID and isolating at home until those test results were received. 

But Strang said after hearing concerns about the exemption and its possible COVID-19 risks, he took a second look at the case. 

“I realized I should not have approved the plan as it was,” Strang said at a news briefing with Premier Stephen McNeil on Thursday. 

“Even though safety requirements were part of my approval, the meetings could have been done virtually, upon return the individuals involved can isolate at home and still manage to work. That’s why I revoked my initial exception and reversed that decision.”

Strang ordered the three executives to do the 14-day quarantine. On Wednesday, Irving said all three had been tested - two tested negative and a third was still awaiting their results. 

"Even though safety requirements were part of my approval, the meetings could have been done virtually, upon return the individuals involved can isolate at home and still manage to work. That’s why I revoked my initial exception and reversed that decision."

- Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health

An Irving news release Wednesday indicated they weren’t pleased with how the situation was handled. 

“The changing and very restrictive nature of the response to the pandemic makes it difficult for us to efficiently plan ahead and accomplish our mission, requiring us to regularly evaluate whether we can continue efficient operations in the shipyard,” the release said. 

The premier said he called the head of the family business, James K. Irving, on Wednesday evening to discuss their concerns. 

“We have been dealing with a whole host of issues unrelated to the pandemic,” McNeil said. 

“On top of that we have actually closed businesses down. There are businesses around where I am sitting that have invested their own money, who’ve worked hard and put a lifetime of work into those businesses and we closed them 100 per cent. There are others who have been able to operate as long as they follow the public health protocols. 

“That was what my message was and will continue to be, that we’ll follow the public health protocols as we try, as we continue to move our economy forward and get people moving about our province again.”

Strang said it’s not the first time he’s said no to quarantine exemptions. 

"Over the last four months, I’ve approved plans that have allowed essential workers to come into this province to do work that requires specialized skills. I’ve worked with each of those companies to draft very specific plans that follow public health protocols that ensure we have the necessary COVID safety.

"In fact, I’ve said no to a number of plans, I’ve even turned around a planeload of workers who were in the air about to land in Nova Scotia because I couldn’t approve a plan because it didn’t provide the right level of COVID safety. I’ve worked with the company to develop a proper protocol and the work has moved ahead and it’s gone very well. "


 

Kevin McCoy, president of Irving Shipyard, was one of three executives whose initial quarantine exemption was revoked by Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. - File-SaltWire
Kevin McCoy, president of Irving Shipyard, was one of three executives whose initial quarantine exemption was revoked by Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. - File-SaltWire

In other COVID-19 news Thursday, Strang reported no new positive cases after 398 tests were done at the QEII Health Centre’s microbiology lab. 

There are now four active cases in the province, which is down one case from yesterday after the person’s COVID-19 was considered resolved. There have been 999 recoveries during the pandemic, 1,066 positive test results, 56,777 negative results and 63 deaths. 

One former COVID-19 patient remains in hospital being treated for other reasons. 

Meanwhile a cluster of cases on Prince Edward Island - which can be traced back to a student who arrived by plane in Halifax June 26 from the United States  - increased to six people on Thursday. 

P.E.I.’s chief public health officer Heather Morrison said a close contact of someone in the original cluster had tested positive. That person originally tested negative but had been self-isolating as part of the usual protocols for close contacts of a person identified with COVID. 

The P.E.I. cluster was sparked when the student air traveller didn’t quarantine as required but instead shared accommodations and a vehicle while in Nova Scotia with a visitor from P.E.I.

RELATED:

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories