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 485 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 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. 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 175 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
  • 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, 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

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 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 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 COVID-19 Specialized Worker Protocol (PDF 79 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 restrictions are in place:

  • Households can have up to 10 visitors at their home (indoors and outdoors), in addition to the people who live there without social distancing. When your household goes into the community, your household can stay together outdoors without social distancing no matter how many people are in the household.
  • Gathering limit for close social groups (indoors and outdoors) - you can form a close social group of up to 10 people without social distancing; you should try to keep this group consistent.
  • Private events on private property (personal residence, cottage or private rental property like a cabin or cottage) hosted by a recognized business or organization need to follow the Private Property Event Guidelines (PDF), including:
    • indoors - household members and up to 10 others
    • fully or partially held in outdoor enclosed structures - 50% of the structure’s capacity up to 100 people maximum
    • completely outdoors - 150 people maximum
    Private events on private property (indoors or outdoors) that are hosted by an individual need follow the household gathering limit (household members and up to 10 others).
  • Indoor gathering limit with social distancing for events and activities hosted by a recognized business or organization - 50% of the venue’s capacity up to 100 people maximum indoors (including spectators of sports and performing arts). Events and activities include:
    • arts and culture events
    • sports (recreational, amateur and professional), recreational and physical activity events
    • festivals
    • special events
    • social events
    • faith gatherings, weddings and funerals (including receptions and visitation)
    • bingo, darts and other activities hosted by unlicensed establishments and organized clubs following the Guidelines for Games and activities in licensed establishments (PDF)

    Licensed establishments can host bingo, darts and other activities following their sector plan and the Guidelines for Games and activities in licensed establishments (PDF).

    Audience members and spectators can only be permitted if the business or organization has an approved gathering plan that follows Guidelines for Venues and Facilities (PDF) and COVID-19 Prevention Guide for Events, Theatres and Performance Venues (PDF).

  • Outdoor gathering limit with social distancing for events and activities hosted by a recognized business or organization - 150 people maximum outdoors (including spectators of sports and performing arts). Events and activities include:
    • arts and culture events
    • sports (recreational, amateur and professional), recreational and physical activity events
    • festivals
    • special events
    • social events
    • faith gatherings, weddings and funerals (including receptions and visitation)
    • bingo, darts and other activities hosted by unlicensed establishments and organized clubs following the Guidelines for Games and activities in licensed establishments (PDF)

    Licensed establishments can host bingo, darts and other activities following their sector plan and the Guidelines for Games and activities in licensed establishments (PDF).

    Audience members and spectators can only be permitted if the business or organization has an approved gathering plan that follows Guidelines for Venues and Facilities (PDF) and COVID-19 Prevention Guide for Events, Theatres and Performance Venues (PDF).

  • Recognized businesses and organizations hosting events and activities can have multiple groups of up to 100 people in each group if:
    • each group follows indoor and outdoor gathering limits for events and activities hosted by a recognized business or organization
    • the facility accommodates separate entrance and exit, concessions and washrooms for each group
    • the facility makes sure people in attendance follow social distancing guidelines
    • the facility has received Public Health approval of its Workplace COVID-19 Prevention Plan
  • Scotiabank Centre (Halifax) and Centre 200 (Sydney) can host events with multiple groups of up to 150 people.
  • 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 75 people without social distancing for rehearsals, performances, practices and games within their regular competitive schedule.
  • 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) -  150 people maximum outdoors or 50% of the venue’s capacity up to 100 people maximum indoors when meetings and training are hosted by a recognized business or organization, including:
    • provincial and municipal governments
    • private businesses and organizations
    • first responder organizations (emergency first responders are exempt from social distancing when necessary)
    • mental health and addictions support groups
    • organized clubs (meetings can follow Guidelines for Return to Day Camp (PDF 525 kB) to have groups with up to 15 people in each group without maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet); different groups of 15 must maintain physical distance)

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.

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.

Events and activities (hosted by a recognized business or organization)

  • Events and activities can only provide food and alcohol service until 11pm and must end by 12am. Sport events hosted may continue after 12am if there’s extended time of play like overtime, but food and alcohol service must end by 11pm. Businesses and organizations need to make sure everyone in attendance follows the Health Protection Act Order. This includes Scotiabank Centre (Halifax) and Centre 200 (Sydney) events.
  • Spectators and audience members are permitted at events (including sports, recreational and physical activity events, and arts and cultural events) if they stay in the designated viewing space or maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from the field of play or performance space. Audience members and spectators can only be permitted if the business or organization has an approved gathering plan that follows Guidelines for Venues and Facilities (PDF) and COVID-19 Prevention Guide for Events, Theatres and Performance Venues (PDF).

Fitness and recreation

  • Fitness establishments (like gyms and yoga studios) can operate at 100% capacity if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan, including:
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between participants during activities (indoor and outdoor)
    • staff must wear masks when they’re not exercising and make sure members and participants wear masks when not exercising
  • Recreational sleepover (overnight) camps held by a recognized business or organization are not permitted.

Healthcare and continuing care

  • 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. Residents can 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 – Visits at long-term care facilities can resume with a limited number of visitors. Visits must be scheduled.
  • Long-term care facilities – Residents can leave the facility for medical and dental appointments.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.
  • Casino Nova Scotia (Halifax and Sydney) needs to follow the same hours as liquor licensed (drinking) establishments, including any restriction changes by county
  • 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 11pm and must close by 12am. Liquor licensed establishments can continue to offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru service after 12am.
  • 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 $1,000 for providing false information.
  • Restaurants can only serve dine-in customers until 11pm and must close by 12am. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru service after 12am.
  • 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 $1,000 for providing false information.

Retail and shopping malls

  • Retail stores can operate at 100% capacity if they follow the Health Protection Act Order, including:
    • 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 can operate at 100% capacity if they follow 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

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

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