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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): restrictions and guidance

Public health directives that everyone in Nova Scotia needs to follow to help contain 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:

If you’re legally required to self-isolate, 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.

Legal proceedings

Individuals engaged in a legal proceeding (including the accused, victim, witness or party in the proceeding) can enter the province to participate in the legal proceeding, but they must self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province other than when they’re in court and follow social distancing guidelines.

Military, defence and police

Canadian Military and Defence Team, Coast Guard, RCMP, Canadian Border Services Agency and Canadian Security Intelligence Service personnel and their families can enter the province to house hunt, but they must self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province other than when they’re looking at properties and follow social distancing guidelines. They also need to self-isolate once they move to Nova Scotia or for any other visit to the province.

Rotational workers (working outside the province)

Rotational workers (like Alberta oil workers) are individuals who live in Nova Scotia and travel to work in another province, territory or country on a regular schedule (up to 4 weeks home at a time). Rotational workers who work in a province or territory outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador or outside Canada 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 Directive Under the Authority of the Chief Medical Officer of Health – COVID-19 Exceptions for Rotational Workers (PDF 483 KB).

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

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 who work in a province or territory outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador or outside Canada must be tested for COVID-19 during their modified self-isolation. They need to get tested 2 times (once on day 1 or 2 and again on day 6, 7 or 8 of their modified self-isolation). Rotational workers also need to self-isolate for the full 14 days, even with negative test results. Learn more: Rotational Workers Self-Isolation and Testing Factsheet (PDF)

Temporary foreign workers, fishers and offshore workers

Temporary foreign workers can enter the province, but they must self-isolate upon arrival for 14 days. If they can, they should self-isolate onsite where they are planning to work.

Fishers entering the province to board a fishing vessel or get supplies must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive, unless they can self-isolate on the fishing vessel for 14 consecutive days before leaving the vessel. They can’t leave the boat for any reason, including to get supplies. They can dock and have supplies delivered.

Offshore workers can enter the province for work, but they must self-isolate upon arrival for 14 days.

Exemptions from self-isolation

Some people are exempt from the self-isolation requirement. Even if you’re exempt, you still need to follow social distancing guidelines. You need to watch for symptoms and self-isolate if you start to feel sick.

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

  • residents of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador when they travel within Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and 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 symptoms of COVID-19
  • 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 Protocol Under the Authority of the Chief Medical Officer of Health – COVID-19 Protocol for Nova Scotia-New Brunswick Travel (PDF 638 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 Protocol Under the Authority of the Chief Medical Officer of Health – COVID-19 Protocol for Nova Scotia-New Brunswick Travel (PDF 638 KB)
  • people visiting or leaving Nova Scotia for essential health services, plus support people travelling with them
  • workers who are essential to the movement of people and goods, and who must enter Nova Scotia as part of their work requirements (not for personal reasons or other types of work)
    • healthy 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
    • 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

Workers exempt from self-isolation

Workers exempt from the self-isolation requirement should follow social distancing guidelines as much as they can and also follow public health directives. They need to watch for symptoms and self-isolate if they start to feel sick.

If an exempt 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’s a completely separate space where the traveller can self-isolate alone.

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
  • attending a funeral or service (like a burial or celebration of life) for an immediate family member; exceptions are not granted to attend public visitations

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 or attending the service. 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 from outside 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 c19compassionate@novascotia.ca 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 directives 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

If your exception request is for attending a funeral or service for an immediate family member, your request also needs to include:

  • written confirmation that the funeral is for an immediate family member (you need an obituary or funeral announcement or a letter from the funeral home confirming date of service and your relationship to deceased)
  • details about the service (for example, how many people are expected to attend, if the service is open to the public or invitation only)

If permission is granted, you will receive a confirmation email indicating approval and the conditions. When you arrive in Nova Scotia you need to show this document to border officials.

Specialized worker exceptions from self-isolation

Workers from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador can receive an exception to the self-isolation requirement for urgent and critical on-site work that requires specialized skills unavailable in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador. This includes, for example:

  • people who are essential to the inspection, installation or repair of specialized equipment
  • people who are essential to the maintenance and repair of critical infrastructure
  • people who are essential to the completion of large construction projects

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 Directive Under the Authority of the Chief Medical Officer of Health – COVID-19 Exceptions for Specialized Workers (PDF 90 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.

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 c19businessexceptions@novascotia.ca before specialized workers travel to the province.

Gathering limits

Gathering limits apply to social events, faith gatherings, sports and physical activity, weddings, funerals and arts and culture events like theatre performances, dance recitals, festivals and concerts. Gathering limits also apply to businesses and organizations that run social events, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals, arts and culture events or sports events.

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

The following gathering restrictions are in place:

  • Households can have gatherings up to 10 people in their home including people who live there without social distancing (if your household is more than 10 people you can’t have any visitors); when you go into the community, your household can stay together without social distancing no matter how many people are in the household – when shopping, try to have 1 person from your household go into a store to help keep customers and staff safe.
  • Gathering limit for close social groups - you can form a close social group of up to 10 people without social distancing; you should try to keep this group consistent.
  • Businesses and organizations are not permitted to host in-person events and activities (indoors or outdoors), including:
    • arts and culture events
    • sports events (recreational, amateur and professional)
    • festivals
    • special events
    • social events
    • wedding and funeral receptions
  • Indoor gathering limit with social distancing for faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies and funeral services that are run by a recognized business or organization - 50% of the venue’s capacity up to 100 people maximum indoors (receptions and visitation are not permitted).
  • Outdoor gathering limit with social distancing for faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies and funeral services that are run by a recognized business or organization - 150 people maximum outdoors (receptions and visitation are not permitted).
  • Gathering limit without social distancing for participants and officials in organized performing arts and sports - participants and officials in performing arts and sports (recreational, amateur and professional) can gather in groups of up to 50 people without social distancing for practices, rehearsals and regular local and regional competitions, games, tournaments and performances (performances can only be virtual); in-person spectators are not permitted.
  • Gathering limit for businesses and organizations that can’t maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) because their physical space is too small - 10 customers or clients maximum without social distancing (keep as much social distancing as possible).
  • Gathering limit with social distancing for meetings and training (indoor and outdoor) - 10 people maximum (no matter what size the room or space is), including meetings and training for groups that are exempt from gathering limits and social distancing.
  • Gathering limit with social distancing for mental health and addictions support group organizations holding support group meetings - 25 people maximum per meeting.

Exemptions to gathering limits

The only exemptions to gathering limits are employers exempt from gathering limits and social distancing.

Business and service restrictions

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

Businesses and organizations permitted to reopen

Businesses, organizations and health professions that were required to close under the Health Protection Act Order can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans. They also need to have a Workplace COVID-19 Prevention Plan and follow gathering limits for meetings and training.

Fitness and recreation

  • Fitness establishments (like gyms and yoga studios) must operate at 50% capacity and follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan, including:
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 3 metres (9 feet) between participants during high intensity activities like spin and boxing classes
    • staff and members must wear masks when they’re not exercising
    • outdoor fitness classes can operate at 100% capacity and must maintain a minimum physical distance of 3 metres (9 feet) between participants during high intensity activities
    • weight rooms, cardio machine areas and fitness classes within sport and recreation facilities must operate at 50% capacity and must maintain a minimum physical distance of 3 metres (9 feet) between participants during high intensity activities
  • Recreational sleepover (overnight) camps are not permitted.

Healthcare and continuing care

  • Adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services – A designated caregiver can take a resident for a sightseeing car ride, but they can't have additional passengers in the car or stop along the way (like stopping for shopping, visiting or going through a drive-thru). Off-site sightseeing trips for residents using facility vehicles can continue, but there can't be stops along the way (like stopping for shopping, visiting or going through a drive-thru).
  • Adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services 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.
  • Adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services – Visits can resume with a limited number of visitors. Visits must be scheduled.
  • Adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services – Residents of adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services can leave the facility for medical and dental appointments.
  • Adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services – Residents of adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres licensed by the Department of Community Services can leave the facility for work or to volunteer activities.
  • Long-term care facilities – A designated caregiver can take a resident of a long-term care facility for a sightseeing car ride, but they can't have additional passengers in the car or stop along the way (like stopping for shopping, visiting or going through a drive-thru). Off-site sightseeing trips for residents of long-term care facilities using facility vehicles can continue, but there can't be stops along the way (like stopping for shopping, visiting or going through a drive-thru).
  • Long-term care facilities 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 – Visits at long-term care facilities can resume with a limited number of visitors. Visits must be scheduled.
  • Long-term care facilities – Residents of long-term care facilities can leave the facility for medical and dental appointments.
  • Community-based adult day programs for seniors are not permitted, except for respite care.
  • Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre are gradually reopening programs and services and changing visitor restrictions.

Religious services

Religious groups should consider holding services virtually (online or through community TV). They can also hold outdoor “drive-in” services if they follow social distancing guidelines, including:

  • staff must be present to make sure everyone is following the restrictions
  • vehicles must be parked 2 metres (6 feet) apart in the parking lot, with the engine turned off
  • only people from 1 household unit should be in each car
  • everyone must stay in their car through the entire service
  • the building, including washrooms, must stay closed to the congregation
  • microphones can’t be shared between staff
  • nothing can be passed out to the congregation (like books, programs, food, beverages and collection plates)
  • people can’t exchange items between cars

Restaurants, bars and casinos

  • Casino Nova Scotia (Halifax and Sydney) – wearing a non-medical mask is required in Casino Nova Scotia, except when you're eating or drinking.
  • Video lottery terminals (VLTs) – wearing a non-medical mask is required when operating video lottery terminals, except when you're eating or drinking.
  • Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments (like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms) can only serve dine-in customers until 10pm and must close by 11pm. Liquor licensed establishments can continue to offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru service after 11pm. 
  • 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.
  • Restaurants can only serve dine-in customers until 10pm and must close by 11pm. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru service after 11pm. 
  • 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.

Retail and shopping malls

  • Retail stores need to follow the Health Protection Act Order, including:
    • limiting shoppers and staff to 50% of the store's capacity
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between patrons
    • keeping music to 50 decibels
    • only allowing lineups (indoor and outdoor) if patrons wear a non-medical mask
  • Shopping malls need to follow the Health Protection Act Order, including:
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between patrons
    • only allowing lineups (indoor and outdoor) if patrons wear a non-medical mask
    • lineups for each retail store are no more than 10 people
    • keeping music to 50 decibels
    • non-retail public areas in the mall are closed
    • food courts can remain open with public health measures in place including maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between tables

Temporary Foreign Workers

  • Temporary Foreign Workers who can come Nova Scotia under federal rules must follow the conditions of the Health Protection Act order (like self-isolating for 14 days upon arrival to the province).

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:
    • government building construction and repair
    • transportation
    • 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

If you’re concerned someone isn’t following the Health Protection Act Order and public health directives, you can:

  • remind them that not following public health directives puts people at risk
  • 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
  • call your local non-emergency phone number for issues like someone not self-isolating or large gatherings