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 at least 7 days or as directed by Public Health if you:

  • have COVID-19 symptoms and are waiting to be tested and get your test results
  • were at a potential exposure site and Public Health advises that you need to self-isolate while you’re waiting to be tested and for your test results
  • have been tested for COVID-19 and have been told by Public Health that you need to self-isolate while you’re waiting to get your test results
  • have tested positive for COVID-19
  • have been told by Public Health that you’re a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and that you need to self-isolate
  • have travelled from another Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia) and are not fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia

How long you need to self-isolate

If you’re legally required to self-isolate (including after travel), you need to self-isolate for at least 7 days or as directed by Public Health.

Child custody protocol and self-isolation

Individuals travelling for child custody reasons (dropping off, picking up or visiting) who are not fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia, need to follow the COVID-19 Child Custody Protocol (PDF) when entering Nova Scotia from another Canadian province or territory. They need to complete the Safe Check-in Form before they travel to the province. They also may need to self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province (at least 7 days), depending on their situation.

They need to follow public health measures and guidance 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 COVID-19.

When travelling to Nova Scotia for child custody reasons, individuals who do not have COVID-19 symptoms and are fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia can complete the Safe Check-in Form as a regular traveller. Self-isolation isn't required but testing is recommended.

Military, defence and police

Canadian Military and Defence Team, Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Border Services Agency and Canadian Security Intelligence Service personnel and their spouse or partner can enter the province from another Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia) to house hunt, but they may need to self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province other than when they’re looking at properties and need to follow public health measures and guidance. Their families may also need to self-isolate once they move to Nova Scotia.

When travelling to Nova Scotia to house hunt or move to Nova Scotia, military, defence and police personnel and their spouse or partners who don't have COVID-19 symptoms and are fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia should complete the Safe Check-in Form as a regular traveller.

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 Atlantic Canada).

Rotational workers who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for the period of time they're in the province (at least 7 days). Rotational workers need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and the COVID-19 Rotational Worker Protocol (PDF), including self-isolation and testing requirements.

Before each trip to Nova Scotia, rotational workers who are not fully vaccinated need to complete the Safe Check-in Form before travelling.

Rotational workers who are not fully vaccinated are required to get tested for COVID-19 during their stay in Nova Scotia. 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 or 7 and on day 12, 13 or 14. If they receive 2 negative tests results and can leave self-isolation after 7 days, they don’t need to get tested on day 12, 13 or 14.

When travelling to Nova Scotia, rotational workers who do not have COVID-19 symptoms and are fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia should complete the Safe Check-in Form as a regular traveller. They do not follow the COVID-19 Rotational Worker Protocol. Self-isolation isn’t required but testing is recommended.

Rotational workers from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador follow the COVID-19 Atlantic Canada Travel Protocol (PDF) instead of the COVID-19 Rotational Worker Protocol.

International rotational workers

International rotational workers entering Canada must follow federal isolation, testing and travel 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 165 kB) when entering Nova Scotia. You also need to complete the Safe Check-in Form before you travel to the province.

If you travel for personal reasons (like vacationing or visiting), you're not exempt and may need to self-isolate when you arrive in Nova Scotia from another Canadian province or territory. Self-isolation requirements are based on vaccination status and testing.

International travellers entering Canada must follow federal isolation, testing and travel requirements in the Quarantine Act. They do not follow the COVID-19 Exempt traveller Protocol.

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

  • 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 do not have COVID-19 symptoms; they need to follow the COVID-19 Child Custody Protocol (PDF) if they're not fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia
  • people who need to travel between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador for work, school, childcare, essential veterinary services or necessary tasks that can’t be done virtually if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and the COVID-19 Atlantic Canada Travel Protocol (PDF 300 kB)
  • people who travel from another Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia) who are fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in or returning to Nova Scotia
  • 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, RCMP, Canadian Border Services Agency and Canadian Security Intelligence Service
    • first responders, including police, fire, Emergency Health Services (EHS) paramedic workers and essential healthcare workers
    • essential healthcare workers who travel to and from Nova Scotia and another province or territory to provide temporary support like locums

Compassionate exceptions

People from outside Nova Scotia can request a compassionate exception to enter Nova Scotia and the self-isolation requirement for an end-of-life visit. Compassionate exceptions are not available for attending a funeral or service.

Medical exceptions from self-isolation and proof of full vaccination

If you have a valid medical reason that prevents you from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you can request a medical exception from the requirement to self-isolate when you arrive in Nova Scotia or for proof of full vaccination for discretionary, non-essential events and activities.

Specialized worker exceptions from self-isolation

Workers from another Canadian province or territory (outside Atlantic Canada) can receive an exception to the self-isolation requirement when work can’t be done by workers within the province for:

  • urgent work on critical infrastructure that’s crucial for the province to function
  • urgent work that’s necessary to preserve the viability of 1 or more Nova Scotia business
  • fish harvesters to carry out the commercial (not recreational) or licensed activity of catching fish and other seafood for market or other approved activities

Specialized workers with an exception from self-isolation 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 (at least 7 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), including self-isolation and testing requirements.

Before each trip to Nova Scotia, specialized workers who are not fully vaccinated need to complete the Safe Check-in Form before travelling.

When you arrive in Nova Scotia, you need to show your confirmation email to border officials and any additional required documentation.

Specialized workers who are not fully vaccinated 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 or 7 and day 12, 13 or 14. If they receive 2 negative tests results and can leave self-isolation after 7 days, they don’t need to get tested on day 12, 13 or 14. Testing is recommended for fish harvesters (but not required).

When travelling to Nova Scotia, specialized workers who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms and are fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia should complete the Safe Check-in Form as a regular traveller. They do not follow the COVID-19 Specialized Worker Protocol.

Specialized workers from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador follow the COVID-19 Atlantic Canada Travel Protocol (PDF) instead of the COVID-19 Specialized Worker Protocol.

International specialized workers

International specialized workers entering Canada who are required to isolate under the federal Quarantine Act must follow federal isolation, testing and travel 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 Atlantic Canada within a 1-month period need to provide details about their Workplace COVID-19 Prevention Plan to before specialized workers travel to the province.

Gathering limits

The following gathering limits are in place under the Health Protection Act Order:

  • Informal social gatherings not hosted by a business or organization - up to 25 people indoors and up to 50 people outdoors without social distancing and masks. Masks may be required if you’re in a public place with mask requirements.
  • Funeral services hosted by a business or organization (indoors and outdoors) can have up to 25 people plus the person conducting the ceremony and funeral home staff without proof of vaccination. Masks are required (indoors and outdoors). Receptions and visitation are not permitted.
  • Funeral services, visitation and receptions hosted by a business or organization (indoors and outdoors) with proof of vaccination don’t have a gathering limit but need to follow the COVID-19 Protocol for Proof of Full Vaccination for Events and Activities (PDF).

Full vaccination requirements

Participating in discretionary, non-essential events and activities

As part of the proof of full vaccination protocol, you need proof of full vaccination to participate in discretionary, non-essential events and activities that gather people together (like going to restaurants, movies, sports events, theatre performances, social events and the gym). Proof of vaccination isn't required for children 11 and younger (they can attend events and activities with a fully vaccinated adult or on their own).

Protocol: COVID-19 Protocol for Proof of Full Vaccination for Events and Activities (PDF)

Mandatory vaccination in high-risk settings

As part of the mandatory vaccination protocol for high-risk settings, most people who work in the public sector providing services and supports to vulnerable people need proof of full vaccination.

Protocol: COVID-19 Protocol for Mandatory Vaccination in High-Risk Settings (PDF)

The mandatory vaccination protocol for high-risk settings applies to:

  • Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre
  • workers in long-term care facilities (licensed and unlicensed) and homecare agencies (publicly and privately funded)
  • public school teachers, pre-primary and other school-based staff, regional and board office staff and people providing services in schools, including cafeteria and school bus services
  • Hearing and Speech Nova Scotia
  • workers in residential care facilities and day programs funded by the Department of Community Services (Disability Support Program) and adult day programs funded by the Department of Seniors and Long-term Care
  • workers in Department of Community Services facilities and people providing placements for children and youth in the care of the Minister of Community Services (excluding foster family placements)
  • paramedics, LifeFlight nurses and some staff at Emergency Health Services (EHS)
  • correctional officers, youth workers, staff volunteers, visitors, contractors and service providers who work in or provide service to adult and youth correctional facilities
  • early childhood educators and staff in regulated childcare, including volunteers, practicum students and other professionals entering these settings
  • physicians and other service providers to organizations that are required to follow the COVID-19 Protocol for Mandatory Vaccination in High-Risk Settings (like hairdressers and contractors)  

Employers need to make sure that employees are aware of the COVID-19 Protocol for Mandatory Vaccination in High-Risk Settings and know when and how to show proof of vaccination. There are minimal exceptions to the protocol. If you have questions about the protocol, you should talk to your employer.

Business and service restrictions

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

Childcare and education

  • Wearing a mask is required for staff, students and visitors when they’re in indoor childcare settings.

Events for children 11 or younger

Hosting sports or arts and culture events

Individuals, businesses and organizations can’t host sports or arts and culture events (like games, competitions, tournaments or performances) that include children 11 or younger from outside Nova Scotia as participants. This means that children 11 or younger can’t enter Nova Scotia to participate in these types of events and can’t self-isolate after travelling or get tested for COVID-19 to participate in these events.

Travelling out-of-province

Individuals, businesses and organizations can’t take children 11 or younger to participate in sports or arts and culture events outside Nova Scotia (like games, competitions, tournaments or performances). This means that children 11 or younger can't participate in these types of events outside Nova Scotia and can’t self-isolate after travelling or get tested for COVID-19 to participate in these events.

Travelling into Nova Scotia

Individuals, businesses and organizations from outside Nova Scotia can’t take children 11 or younger to participate in sports or arts and culture events in Nova Scotia (like games, competitions, tournaments or performances). This means that children 11 or younger can't participate in these types of events in Nova Scotia and can’t self-isolate after travelling or get tested for COVID-19 to participate in these events.

Practices, lessons, rehearsals and attending events

Children can continue to enter Nova Scotia or travel outside the province to attend sports or arts and culture events as spectators.

Children can also continue to travel for regular practices, lessons and rehearsals. The risk to people who interact consistently with the same group is lower than interacting with different people at these types of events.

Healthcare and continuing care

  • COVID-19 Point of Care Screening Tests (PCTs) are not permitted unless the business or organization has Public Health approval and follows the Health Protection Act Order.
  • Visitors at long-term care facilities need to wear a mask.

Workplaces

  • Businesses and organizations need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans, including COVID-19 Protocols for Workplaces (PDF), Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Hazard Management, public health measures and guidance to protect yourself and others.
  • 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 and areas with poor ventilation.

Mask requirements

Mask requirements for indoor public places and public transportation remain in place.

Travel

Information for international and interprovincial travellers, including when you need to complete the Safe Check-in Form. Learn more: travel and travelling to Nova Scotia.

Enforcement

Police are authorized to enforce orders under the Health Protection Act (like gathering limits and self-isolation requirements). Multiple fines can be given each day if an individual, business or organization fails to comply.

If you do not follow public health measures, you can be fined $2,422 for the first offence and $11,622 for each additional offence.

If businesses and organizations do not follow public health measures when hosting events or gatherings, they can be fined $11,622 for the first offence and $57,622 for each additional offence. If businesses and organizations are not hosting events or gatherings and do not follow public health measures, they can be fined $11,622 for each offence.

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 (do not 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 for business or workplace issues