1. Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
  2. Alerts and notices
  3. What it means for Nova Scotians

COVID-19: what it means for Nova Scotians

Public health directives to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

Self-isolation requirements

Most people entering Nova Scotia from outside the province must self-isolate for 14 days (unless you’ve only travelled within Atlantic Canada in the past 14 days). That means you need to go straight home and stay there. You can have someone else deliver food or anything else you need.

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.

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.

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

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.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families can enter the province to house hunt without self-isolating, but family members must self-isolate once they move to Nova Scotia or for any other visit to the province and follow social distancing guidelines.

Individuals who regularly leave the province for work (like Alberta oil workers) and return to the province between work periods can enter the province during their time off from work, but they must self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province (up to 14 days). Individuals who don’t have symptoms still need to self-isolate. If they have a low risk of exposure because of where they’ve been and that they’ve followed public health directives, they can have contact with other people in their household while they’re self-isolating at home. They must not leave the home or property.

How to self-isolate

Learn more about when to self-isolate and how to self-isolate.

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 monitor your symptoms closely, and self-isolate if you start to feel sick.

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

  • Atlantic Canadian residents who travel within Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador (Atlantic travel bubble)
  • people from outside Atlantic Canada who have already self-isolated for 14 days in another Atlantic Canadian province before they enter Nova Scotia
  • people visiting Nova Scotia to facilitate child sharing between parents under a joint custody order or agreement if both the children and the person bringing them don’t have symptoms of COVID-19
  • people visiting Nova Scotia for essential health services, plus 1 support person 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 food production plants
    • 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 the self-isolation requirement should follow social distancing guidelines as much as they can and also follow public health directives. They need to monitor their symptoms closely, and self-isolate if they start to feel sick.

Compassionate exceptions from self-isolation

People from outside Atlantic Canada can request an exception to the self-isolation requirement for compassionate purposes. Exceptions will be considered for:

  • visiting an immediate family member in palliative care or ICU
  • attending a funeral or service (like a wake, burial or celebration of life) for an immediate family member

Immediate family members include:

  • parents, step-parent and parents-in-law
  • children, step-children and foster children
  • grandparents and great-grandparents
  • grandchildren and great-grandchildren
  • siblings, step-siblings and half-siblings
  • domestic partners

If you’re granted an exception, you’ll be allowed to visit your immediate family member or attend a service, but you must self-isolate for the period of time you’re in the province other than when you’re visiting 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.

To request a compassionate exception from self-isolation, you must send a compassionate exception request and detailed travel information to the Government of Nova Scotia before you travel to Nova Scotia. If you don’t need a compassionate exception and are travelling to Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada, you need to complete a self-declaration form to enter Nova Scotia.

Your compassionate exception request (send to ) must include the following travel details:

  • name of travellers
  • purpose of travel (with details)
  • where you’re travelling from and how you’ll get here
  • where you plan to stay in Nova Scotia
  • confirmation that the facility where your family member is receiving in-patient care has given you permission to visit, if applicable
  • your plan for self-isolation during your stay, including details about how food and supplies will be delivered, how you will maintain social distance from others in the residence (if applicable) and how you’ll follow Public Health measures and guidelines

If permission is granted, you will receive an electronic document indicating approval and the conditions. You must show this document to border officials when you enter the province.

Gathering restrictions

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.

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

The following gathering restrictions are in place:

  • gathering limit without social distancing - you can form a close social group of up to 10 people without social distancing; you're not required to be exclusive but are strongly encouraged to maintain a consistent group (people shouldn't gather in random or spontaneous groups of 10)
  • indoor gathering limit with social distancing for social events, sports and physical activity, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals, arts and culture events, festivals and special events that are run by a recognized business or organization - 50% of the venue’s capacity up to 200 people maximum indoors
  • outdoor gathering limit with social distancing for social events, sports and physical activity, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals, arts and culture events, festivals and special events that are run by a recognized business or organization - 250 people maximum outdoors
  • gathering limit with social distancing for social events, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals, and arts and culture events that are not run by a recognized business or organization (like a family event in the backyard) - 50 people maximum indoors and outdoors
  • gathering limit with social distancing for sports and physical activity that are not run by a recognized business or organization - 50 people maximum indoors and outdoors (participants can have incidental close contact with each other if it’s infrequent, brief and can’t be avoided)

Exemptions to the gathering limit

Exemptions to the gathering limit include:

Businesses and workplaces

Gathering limits apply to businesses and organizations that run social events, faith gatherings, weddings, funerals, arts and culture events or sports events. All businesses and organizations need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans, including any specific gathering restrictions.

Business and service restrictions

Business and service restrictions are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Businesses and organizations that were required to close under the Health Protection Act Order must follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans.

You can also visit restriction updates to see how measures put in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19 are gradually changing.

Childcare and education

  • Public schools and pre-primary are closed for the rest of the 2019 to 2020 school year.
  • Family daycare homes under a family home daycare agency (licensed childcare providers) can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and guidance from Public Health.
  • Daycare facilities (licensed day care facilities) can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and and guidance from Public Health.
  • Unlicensed childcare providers serving 6 children or less of any age and 8 children or less of school age, including their own children, can operate.
  • Summer day camps can open with up to 10 people in each individual camp group within the summer day camp if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and guidance from Public Health.

Disability support programs

  • All day programs, supported employment and social enterprise service providers funded through the Department of Community Services’ Disability Support Program must close.

Healthcare and continuing care

  • Self-regulated health professions can provide in-person or virtual care services if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans. Sector-specific plans should follow guidance from Public Health (PDF 116 kB).

    Self-regulated health professions must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including:

    • they’re authorized to provide this care within their scope of practice
    • they have adopted a compliance plan in accordance with the directions established by their governing college and approved by the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Unregulated (non-regulated) health professions (like naturopaths) can provide in-person or virtual care services if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans.

    Unregulated (non-regulated) professions must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including if they’re authorized to provide this care within their scope of practice.

  • Long-term care facilities can resume outdoor visitation if visitors stay two metres (6 feet) away from residents and staff.
  • Nova Scotia Health Authority has restricted visitors and is suspending some elective and non-urgent appointments and services to contain the spread of COVID-19 and conserve resources. Read more on the NSHA website.
  • IWK Health Centre has restricted visitors and is suspending all non-urgent appointments and services. Urgent and emergency appointments and services are continuing. Read more on the IWK website.

Personal and wellness services

  • Personal services (like hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons, and body art establishments) can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans. See the sector-specific plan for the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Registered Barbers Association.

    Personal services must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including:

    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or a physical barrier
    • if physical distancing can’t be maintained, limiting the number of customers or clients on the premises (indoor and outdoor) to no more than 10 people at a time
  • All fitness establishments (like gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities) can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans.

    Fitness establishments must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including:

    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or a physical barrier
    • if physical distancing can’t be maintained, limiting the number of customers or clients on the premises (indoor and outdoor) to no more than 10 people at a time

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 requirements, 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

  • Restaurants can reopen for table service (dine-in) if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out and delivery service. See the sector-specific plan for the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia.

    Restaurants must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including:

    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or a physical barrier between tables, booths and single seats
    • not exceeding 100% of the restaurant’s capacity
    • not permitting any single group within the restaurant to exceed 10 people
    • stopping service by midnight
    • closing by 1am
  • Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments (like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms) can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan.

    Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including:

    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or a physical barrier between tables, booths and single seats
    • not exceeding 100% of the establishment’s capacity
    • not permitting any single group within the establishment to exceed 10 people
    • providing food and alcohol for in-seat service only, delivered to the table by staff, and ensuring food and alcohol is kept at the table
    • ensuring patrons comply with physical distancing requirements
    • stopping service by midnight
    • closing by 1am
  • Casino Nova Scotia (Halifax and Sydney) can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan.
  • Business owners can operate video lottery terminals (VLTs) if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan.

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-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to the province).

Veterinarians

  • Veterinarians can reopen for in-person care to animals if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan.

    Veterinarians must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including:

    • following requirements set out by the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medicine Association
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or a physical barrier
    • if physical distancing can’t be maintained, limiting the number of customers or clients on the premises (indoor and outdoor) to no more than 10 persons at a time

Recreation restrictions

Recreation restrictions are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

  • Privately operated campgrounds can open for all types of campers at 100% capacity if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan.

    Privately operated campgrounds must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including:

    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) or a physical barrier
    • if physical distancing can’t be maintained, limiting the number of customers or clients on the premises (indoor and outdoor) to no more than 10 people at a time
  • Outdoor sports facilities can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans.
  • Summer day camps can open with up to 10 people in each individual camp group within the summer day camp if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans. Sector-specific plans should follow guidance from Public Health (PDF).
  • Public pools can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and the Nova Scotia Lifesaving Society plan for change rooms and washrooms.

    Public pools must meet all conditions in the Health Protection Act Order, including:
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) for lane swimming and aquafit classes
    • allowing 1 or more groups of 10 for other activities based on pool size  

Businesses and organizations not required to close

Any workplace, business or organization that’s not required to be closed can remain open as long as a 2 metre (6 foot) distance can be maintained. See social distancing guidelines. If you can’t maintain social distancing because of the physical size of your business, you must limit the number of customers or clients on the premises (indoor and outdoor) to no more than 10 people at a time.

All businesses, organizations and employees need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and public health directives. There are also business and service restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Employers exempt from the gathering limit and social distancing

Employers exempt from the gathering limit 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
  • jails, prisons and community-based correctional services
  • unlicensed child care facilities
  • homeless shelters
  • Emergency Medical Care Inc.
  • 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

Employers’ obligations during COVID-19

Learn more about how you can protect yourself, your staff and your customers from coronavirus.

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