The move had been described as a “double standard” on social media and by the province’s Opposition leader.
On March 26, the Speaker’s office circulated a memo that notified staff and the press gallery of a COVID-19 exposure that had taken place on March 24 and 25. March 24 marked the beginning of the spring session.
The letter advised those working at the legislature on those days to get tested for the virus.
The memo, which was shared online, said Province House and the legislative precinct would be closed to the general public “until further notice.” As well, the gallery would be closed.
However, MLAs and House of Assembly personnel would be allowed in the chamber, and media scrums would take place with physical distancing.
Social media lit up with complaints pointing to a double standard because the province no longer provides COVID-19 exposure notices when infections are detected in schools or other places frequented by the public.
Liberal Leader Iain Rankin chimed in Monday by tweeting that “Premier Houston gets different treatment than he gives Nova Scotians — a blatant double standard.”
But in his own statement, Houston said that “there absolutely should never be two different standards for politicians and the public” and that “our government does not agree with the decision the Speaker’s Office made on their own.”
He went on to point out that the Speaker sets the rules of the Legislature and acts “independently of the Premier, Premier’s Office and government.”
The Speaker of the House is PC MLA Keith Bain.
The province ended the state of emergency on March 21, and lifted most COVID-19 restrictions.
When announcing the plan in late February, Houston told reporters the move would signal a “return to normalcy” and that “living with COVID — that is the reality. That has to become our new reality.”
Nova Scotia lifts most COVID-19 rules, including mask mandate and gathering limits
— with a file from The Canadian Press
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