1. Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  2. Restrictions and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): restrictions and guidance

Public health measures that everyone in Nova Scotia needs to follow to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Self-isolation requirements

You’re legally required to self-isolate for 14 days or as directed by Public Health if you:

How long you need to self-isolate

If you’re legally required to self-isolate (including after travel), you need to self-isolate for the full 14 days or as directed by Public Health, even if you’ve tested negative for COVID-19 or get the vaccine.

Self-isolation requirements with modification

Child custody

Individuals travelling for child custody reasons, including dropping off, picking up or visiting, need to follow the COVID-19 Child Custody Protocol (PDF) when entering Nova Scotia from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador. They need to complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form (self-declaration) before they travel to the province. They also may need to self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province (up to 14 days), depending on their situation.

They also need to follow public health measures while they're in Nova Scotia and follow the COVID-19 Child Custody Protocol (PDF) when a parent or child has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVD-19.

Rotational workers (working outside the province)

Rotational workers (like Alberta oil workers) are individuals who live in Nova Scotia and travel to work on a regular schedule to another Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador) or outside Canada and who are exempt from self-isolation under the federal Quarantine Act. Rotational workers need to self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province (up to 14 days) and follow the Health Protection Act Order and the COVID-19 Rotational Worker Protocol (PDF 82 kB).

Rotational workers need to self-isolate when they first arrive in Nova Scotia. Once they receive their first negative test result, they can follow modified self-isolation.

During modified self-isolation, rotational workers can:

  • interact with people who live in their household, including children under a joint custody order or agreement who visit or live part-time in the household, without physical distancing, unless rotational workers become unwell (household members don’t need to self-isolate unless they become unwell)
  • spend time outside on their own property
  • go for a drive
  • go for a walk, run, hike, bike or ATV ride off their property (if they encounter people from outside their household they must wear a mask and maintain a distance of 2 metres)
  • visit a park, beach, or other outdoor public space (if they encounter people from outside their household they must wear a mask and maintain a distance of 2 metres)
  • spend time at their cabin or vacation home (or a rental location) in Nova Scotia, following the same rules they would at home
  • drop off and pick up household members at school, work or recreational activities without getting out of their vehicle
  • use no-contact pickup options for groceries or other items purchased online without getting out of their vehicle
  • visit a drive-in theatre without getting out of their vehicle
  • go through a drive-through, like at a restaurant or bank
  • attend necessary (urgent and routine) medical appointments – this includes appointments with physicians and nurse practitioners, dentists, optometrists and other regulated health professionals where in-person treatment is required and getting a COVID-19 vaccine

In the 14 days after they arrive in Nova Scotia, rotational workers can't:

  • enter public places (like schools, grocery stores, shopping malls, banks, religious institutions, restaurants and bars)
  • attend indoor or outdoor gatherings
  • visit people from outside their household
  • let people from outside their household visit them on their property or in their home
  • volunteer or work in any way that puts them in contact with people outside their household

If a rotational worker or someone living in the household travels outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador for non-essential travel, everyone in the household needs to self-isolate for 14 days, unless there is a separate space where the traveler can self-isolate alone.

Rotational workers are required to get tested for COVID-19 during their self-isolation. They need to get tested on day 1 or 2. If they’re still in Nova Scotia, they need to get tested again on day 6, 7 or 8 and day 12, 13 or 14. Rotational workers also need to self-isolate for the full 14 days, even with negative test results. Learn more: Rotational Workers Modified Self-Isolation and Testing Factsheet (PDF 71 kB).

International workers entering Canada who are required to isolate under the Quarantine Act, including workers who live in Nova Scotia and travel to work in another country on a regular schedule, must follow federal isolation and testing requirements in the Quarantine Act. They do not follow the COVID-19 Rotational Worker Protocol.

Exemptions from self-isolation

Some people are exempt from the self-isolation requirement. Most exempt travellers need to follow the COVID-19 Exempt traveller Protocol (PDF 164 kB) when entering Nova Scotia from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador. You also need to complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form (self-declaration) before you travel to the province. People with exemptions who don’t complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form (self-declaration) will lose their exemption.

If you travel for personal reasons (like vacation or visiting), you’re not exempt and must self-isolate for 14 days when you arrive in Nova Scotia. If you or someone living in the household travels for non-essential travel, everyone in the household needs to self-isolate for 14 days, unless there is a separate space where the traveller can self-isolate alone.

Even if you’re exempt, you need to follow public health measures while you’re in Nova Scotia, including following social distancing guidelines, watching for symptoms and self-isolating if you start to feel sick.

People who are exempt from the self-isolation requirement include:

  • residents of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador when they travel within Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador (Atlantic travel bubble)
  • people from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador who have already self-isolated for 14 days in Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador before they enter Nova Scotia
  • visiting or leaving Nova Scotia to drop off or pick-up children under a joint custody order or agreement if both the children and the person bringing them don’t have COVID-19 symptoms if they follow the COVID-19 Child Custody Protocol (PDF)
  • people who need to routinely travel between Nova Scotia or New Brunswick to work or attend a school or post-secondary institution located in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and the COVID-19 Nova Scotia-New Brunswick Travel Protocol (PDF 237 kB)
  • people who need to travel between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to drop off or pick up people or things, or accomplish other tasks that are necessary and can’t be done virtually if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and the COVID-19 Nova Scotia-New Brunswick Travel Protocol (PDF 237 kB)
  • people visiting or leaving Nova Scotia for essential health services, plus support people travelling with them; they need to follow the COVID-19 Exempt traveller Protocol (PDF)
  • people participating in a legal proceeding in Nova Scotia (including the accused, victim, witness, lawyer or party in the proceeding); they need to follow the COVID-19 Exempt traveller Protocol (PDF)
  • workers who are essential to the movement of people and goods, and who must enter Nova Scotia as part of their work duties or training required for their jobs (not for personal reasons or other types of work); they need to follow the COVID-19 Exempt traveller Protocol (PDF)
    • trade and transportation workers who are employed in the movement of goods or people across the Nova Scotia border, including truck drivers, crew, maintenance and operational workers on any plane, train or ship
    • airline crew who live in Nova Scotia and are required to deadhead as part of their work duties (flying as a passenger on one flight to work as crew on another flight)
    • Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Defence Team personnel, Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Border Services Agency and Canadian Security Intelligence Service
    • first responders, including police, fire and Emergency Health Services (EHS) paramedic workers

Compassionate exceptions from self-isolation

People from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador can request an exception to the self-isolation requirement for compassionate purposes. Exceptions will be considered for:

  • visiting an immediate family member who is nearing end of life

If you’re granted an exception, you’ll be allowed to do that specific activity, but you must self-isolate for the period of time you’re in the province (up to 14 days) other than when you’re visiting the immediate family member. Even if you have an exception, you still need to follow social distancing guidelines. You need to monitor your symptoms closely, and self-isolate if you start to feel sick.

If you don't need a compassionate exception and are travelling to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador, you need to complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form (self-declaration) to enter Nova Scotia.

Send your compassionate exception request to and include the following travel details:

  • name of travellers
  • purpose of travel
  • confirmation that the need to travel is urgent
  • where you’re travelling from and how you’ll get to Nova Scotia
  • where you plan to stay in Nova Scotia
  • any travel within the 2-week period before you visit Nova Scotia
  • any known exposure to COVID-19 for all travellers
  • your plan for self-isolation during your stay, including details about how food and supplies will be delivered, how you’ll maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others where you’re staying (if applicable) and how you’ll follow public health measures and guidelines

If your exception request is for visiting an immediate family member who is nearing end of life, your request also needs to include:

  • written confirmation (or email) from your immediate family member’s care team that your family member is near end-of-life and that you have been given permission to visit, if applicable
  • name of the facility where you’ll be visiting your immediate family member, if applicable
  • confirmation that your relative’s home care provider is aware that you’ll be visiting your family member from outside of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador, if applicable

Specialized worker exceptions from self-isolation

Workers from another Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador) and workers from outside Canada who are exempt from self-isolation under the federal Quarantine Act can receive an exception to the self-isolation requirement for urgent and critical on-site infrastructure work that’s crucial for the province to function.

Specialized workers are allowed to work and travel to and from the workplace, but must self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province (up to 14 days) other than when they’re working. Specialized workers need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and the COVID-19 Specialized Worker Protocol (PDF 82 kB).

Before each trip to Nova Scotia, specialized workers from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador need to complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form (self-declaration).

When you arrive in Nova Scotia you need show that you submitted the form by providing the confirmation email you receive after submitting the form to border officials.

Specialized workers who don’t have symptoms are required to get tested for COVID-19 during their modified self-isolation. They need to get tested on day 1 or 2. If they’re still in Nova Scotia, they need to get tested again on day 6, 7 or 8 and day 12, 13 or 14. Specialized workers also need to self-isolate for the full 14 days other than when they’re working, even with negative test results.

International workers entering Canada who are required to isolate under the Quarantine Act must follow federal isolation and testing requirements in the Quarantine Act. They do not follow the COVID-19 Specialized Worker Protocol.

Businesses

Businesses located in Nova Scotia that have more than 10 specialized workers entering Nova Scotia from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador within a 1-month period, need to provide details about their Workplace COVID-19 Prevention plan to before specialized workers travel to the province.

Fish harvester exceptions from self-isolation

Fish harvesters from another Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador) can receive an exception to the self-isolation requirement to carry out the commercial (not recreational) or licensed activity of catching fish and other seafood for market or other approved activities.

Fish harvesters are allowed to work and travel to and from the workplace, but must self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province (up to 14 days) other than when they’re working. Specialized workers need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and the COVID-19 Fish Harvester Protocol (PDF 85 kB).

Before each trip to Nova Scotia, fish harvesters from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador need to complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form (self-declaration).

When you arrive in Nova Scotia you need show that you submitted the form by providing the confirmation email you receive after submitting the form to border officials.

Fish harvesters who don’t have symptoms should get tested for COVID-19 during their modified self-isolation. They should try get tested on day 1 or 2. If they’re still in Nova Scotia, they should try to get tested again on day 6, 7 or 8 and day 12, 13 or 14. Fish harvesters need to self-isolate for the full 14 days other than when they’re working, even with negative test results.

International workers entering Canada who are required to isolate under the Quarantine Act must follow federal isolation and testing requirements in the Quarantine Act. They do not follow the COVID-19 Fish Harvester Protocol.

Gathering limits

You need to follow gathering limits, unless your group has an exemption identified in the Health Protection Act Order (PDF).

The following gathering limits are in place:

  • Gathering limit (indoors and outdoors) is no more than your household (the people you live with) without social distancing. Two smaller households with 1 to 2 people in each household can gather together without social distancing (it must be the same 2 households all the time).
  • An individual can gather with someone from another household for an outdoor activity (like walking or biking) with social distancing.
  • People can participate in outdoor recreational activities (like golfing, fitness classes, tennis and bootcamps) hosted by fitness and recreation businesses and organized clubs. The gathering limit is up to 5 people maximum or multiple groups of 5 people each with a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between participants and groups during activities.
  • Wedding ceremonies and funerals can have up to 5 people plus the person conducting the ceremony (receptions and visitation are not permitted) with social distancing.
  • Gathering limit with social distancing and non-medical masks for mental health and addictions support groups - 10 people maximum.

Exemptions to gathering limits

Exemptions to gathering limits include:

Business and service restrictions

Business and service restrictions are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Childcare and education

  • Public schools and pre-primary are closed.
  • Private schools are closed.
  • Wearing a non-medical mask is required for staff, visitors and children 2 or older when they’re in indoor childcare settings.

Events

  • Meetings and training (indoor and outdoor) hosted by a business or organization are not permitted, including:
    • provincial and municipal governments
    • private businesses and organizations
    • first responder organizations
    • organized clubs
    Meetings and training required for safety and essential operation are permitted.
  • Organized performing arts and sports are not permitted.
  • Businesses and organizations are not permitted to host in-person events and activities (indoors or outdoors), including:
    • arts and culture events
    • festivals
    • social events
    • special events
    • sports (recreational, amateur and professional), recreational and physical activity events
    • wedding and funeral receptions and visitation
  • Virtual events are permitted with a maximum of 5 people in 1 location to support the delivery of the event and maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between all recording, livestream and broadcast production team members.

Faith gatherings

  • Faith gatherings are not permitted.

Fitness and recreation

  • Businesses and organizations offering a wide variety of indoor recreation activities (like indoor play areas, arcades, climbing facilities, dance classes and music lessons) must close.
  • Indoor fitness establishments (like gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities) and sport and recreation facilities (like pools, arenas, tennis courts and large multipurpose recreation facilities) must close.

    Virtual classes are permitted with a maximum of 5 people in 1 location to support the delivery of the class and maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between all recording, livestream and broadcast production team members.

  • Fitness and recreation businesses and organized clubs can offer outdoor activities (like golfing, fitness classes, tennis and bootcamps) with up to 5 people maximum or multiple groups of 5 people each with a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between participants and groups during activities.
  • Recreational sleepover (overnight) camps held by a business or organization are not permitted.

Healthcare and continuing care

  • Adult day programs for persons with disabilities funded by the Department of Community Services must close, except for scheduled vaccine clinics at these programs.
  • Adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services are closed to visitors. Residents are not permitted to leave the facilities.
  • Adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services – Residents can have 2 designated caregivers to help residents with specific caregiving tasks like personal care support, mobility or help with eating. Designated caregivers can be family members, spouses, friends or other support persons, and they must have an established caregiving relationship with the resident before COVID-19.
  • Long-term care facilities are closed to visitors, except for designated caregivers. Residents are not permitted to leave the facilities.
  • Long-term care facilities – Residents can have 2 designated caregivers to help with specific caregiving tasks like personal care support, mobility or help with eating. Designated caregivers can be family members, spouses, friends or other support persons, and they must have an established caregiving relationship with the resident before COVID-19.
  • Community-based adult day programs for seniors are not permitted, except for respite care.
  • Point of Care Screening Tests (rapid tests) are not permitted unless the business or organization has Public Health approval and follows the Health Protection Act Order.
  • Regulated and unregulated health professions can remain open if they have an approved Workplace COVID-19 Prevention Plan.

Museums and libraries

  • Museums, public libraries and Art Gallery of Nova Scotia must close. Libraries can offer pick up and drop off for books and other materials.

Personal and wellness services

  • Personal services businesses (like hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons and body art establishments) must close.

Restaurants, bars and casinos

  • Casino Nova Scotia (Halifax and Sydney) is closed.
  • First Nations gaming establishments must close.
  • Video lottery terminals (VLTs) are not permitted to operate.
  • Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments (like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms) are restricted to take-out, delivery and drive-thru service only. In-person dining is not permitted, except to serve guests of a hotel when the liquor licensed (drinking) establishment is located on the premises. Craft breweries, wineries and distilleries can remain open and sell products from their storefronts if they limit the number of customers to a maximum of 25% store capacity (in-person tastings and samplings are not permitted).
  • Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments (like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms) must collect contact information for all table service (dine-in) patrons. Contact information needs to include date and time of visit, name and phone number and must be kept for 30 days from date of visit for contact tracing purposes. Patrons can be fined $2,000 for providing false information.
  • Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments (like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms) and unlicensed establishments (like community centres, charities and organized clubs) are not permitted to host activities (like bingo, darts, cards, pool and bowling).
  • Restaurants are restricted to take-out, delivery and drive-thru service only. In-person dining is not permitted, except to serve guests of a hotel when the restaurant is located on the premises.
  • Restaurants must collect contact information for all table service (dine-in) patrons. Contact information needs to include date and time of visit, name and phone number and must be kept for 30 days from date of visit for contact tracing purposes. Patrons can be fined $2,000 for providing false information.

Retail and shopping malls

  • NSLC can remain open if they limit the number of customers to a maximum of 25% of store capacity. In-person tastings and samplings are not permitted.
  • Private liquor stores, craft breweries, wineries and distilleries can remain open and sell products from their storefronts if they limit the number of customers to a maximum of 25% store capacity. In-person tastings and samplings are not permitted.
  • Retail stores must close for in-person service unless the store primarily or substantially provides consumer products essential to the life, health or personal safety of individuals and animals. Essential service retail stores can remain open if they limit the number of customers to a maximum of 25% store capacity and provide:
    • automobiles (by appointment only)
    • baby and child products
    • cleaning products
    • computer and cellphone service and repair
    • electronic and office supplies
    • food
    • gardening supplies
    • gas stations and garages
    • hardware supplies and home appliances
    • laundromats
    • personal hygiene products
    • pet and animal supplies
    • pharmaceutical products, medicine and medical devices
    • workplace safety supplies
    Retail stores that primarily or substantially provide non-essential consumer products can provide online ordering, delivery and curbside pick up. They need to restrict in-store presence to staff (no customers are permitted to shop in the store).
  • Shopping malls need to follow the Health Protection Act Order, including:
    • customers can enter the mall to complete their shopping transaction while using contactless payment for in-person shopping (essential service retail) or for curb-side pickup
    • customers must go directly to the retail business to complete their shopping transaction
    • customers wear a non-medical mask
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between patrons, including lineups outside the entrance of a retail business
    • lineups for each retail store are no more than 5 people
    • keeping music to 50 decibels
    • non-retail public areas in the mall are closed
    • food courts can only remain open for people who work in the mall and must maintain a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between tables

Workplaces

  • Businesses and organizations that are not required to close need to maintain a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) within all workplaces and meeting spaces, unless they’re exempt from social distancing or need to follow specific guidelines under the Health Protection Act Order.
  • Businesses and organizations that can’t maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) because their physical space is too small need to limit customers or clients to 5 people maximum and keep as much social distancing as possible.
  • Wearing a non-medical mask is required at private indoor workplaces (like offices or warehouses) in all common areas, places where there’s interaction with the public, areas with poor ventilation and areas where people can’t maintain a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.

Employers exempt from gathering limits and social distancing

Employers exempt from gathering limits and social distancing requirements include:

  • organizations funded by the Department of Community Services that are covered under the Homes for Special Care Act and the Children and Family Services Act
  • long-term care facilities licensed under the Homes for Special Care Act
  • home care agencies funded under the Homemaker Services Act
  • Independent Living Support, Supported Apartment and Supervised Apartment Programs funded by the Department of Community Services
  • hospitals and health authorities
  • courts, administrative tribunals and arbitration proceedings providing essential services
  • jails, prisons and community-based correctional services
  • unlicensed childcare facilities
  • homeless shelters
  • Emergency Medical Care Incorporated
  • people providing care under the Self-Managed Care Program, Supportive Care Program or Caregiver Benefit Program
  • businesses who provide, service or repair medical equipment like wheelchairs, beds and home oxygen equipment
  • food production plants
  • fishing vessels
  • municipal entities and their contractors:
    • police and fire services
    • municipal utilities (water, wastewater, stormwater)
    • maintenance of utilities and municipal facilities
    • transportation
    • road maintenance and repair
    • municipal information and communications technology (ICT) systems and services
    • public transit
    • solid waste, garbage and litter collection and disposal
    • urban forestry
    • municipal logistic, distribution, storage, inventory and repair services
  • private not-for-profit community transportation providers
  • provincial entities and their contractors:
    • enforcement and compliance officers authorized to inspect, investigate and enforce provincial legislation
    • government building construction and repair
    • transportation and active transit
    • infrastructure and housing
    • road maintenance and repair

Travel

Information for international and interprovincial travellers, including travel restrictions and the self-declaration process for entering Nova Scotia. Learn more: travel and travelling to Nova Scotia.

Enforcement

Police are authorized to enforce orders under the Health Protection Act like gathering limits, social distancing and self-isolation requirements. If you don’t follow public health measures you can be fined $2,000 (for example, the fine is $2,000 for each person at a large gathering). If businesses and organizations don’t follow public health measures, they can be fined $7,500. Multiple fines can be given each day if an individual, business or organization fails to comply.

Police are also authorized to enforce orders under the Emergency Management Act like non-essential travel outside your municipality – see Direction of Minister – Municipal Travel Restriction (PDF). If you don’t follow municipal travel restrictions, you can be fined $500 to $10,000. If businesses and organizations don’t follow municipal travel restrictions, they can be fined up to $100,000 per incident.

If someone isn’t following public health measures, talk to them first – they may need help. If you need to call the police, call a non-emergency number for the police in your community (don't call 911). You can also:

  • contact the business or organization, or ask to speak to a manager
  • contact the Department of Labour and Advanced Education (Safety Branch) at 1-800-952-2687 or laesafetybranch@novascotia.ca for business or workplace issues