On March 21, most province-wide public health restrictions will be lifted, including gathering limits, physical distancing and mask requirements. Some measures will remain in place for high-risk settings, such as healthcare and long-term care.

In public schools, masking remains mandatory for a few more weeks.

“I know there will be mixed emotions among students and parents about the decision to keep masks on for a little longer,” said Premier Tim Houston. “But when we have new information, we reassess. This week, eight of our province’s leading pediatric doctors spoke up. After speaking with Dr. (Robert) Strang and Dr. (Andrew) Lynk, and listening carefully, we felt this change made sense. For everyone else, you don’t need restrictions to keep wearing your mask and doing what makes sense to protect yourself and others.”

Effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 21:

  • there will be no gathering limits or capacity limits, but people should still keep their social groups small and consistent and make careful choices about the gatherings they attend
  • physical distance will no longer be required between individuals and groups, although distancing is still recommended
  • masks will no longer be required, but wearing one in indoor public places or crowded outdoor places is strongly recommended
  • businesses and organizations across all sectors can resume full operations with no mandatory public health restrictions
  • special events including festivals, sports, performances, meetings, training and faith ceremonies can resume in full.

“The pandemic isn’t over. COVID-19 is still in our communities and for some, it remains a deadly virus,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Most provincial restrictions are coming to an end but our healthy habits should not. You should still wear a mask when you’re out, get vaccinated, stay home when you’re sick, test to protect vulnerable people and keep your gatherings small. These individual actions, done in the spirit of kindness and community, will help keep us all safe.”

In public schools, staff and students will follow the updated guidance in the Back to School Plan, including the following:

  • masking for staff, students and visitors remains in place for a few more weeks during school hours and on school buses
  • visitors and spectators will need to wear masks in schools during school instructional hours for a few more weeks
  • staff and students are asked to follow core public health measures such as getting vaccinated if eligible, staying home if feeling unwell, following the COVID-19 daily checklist, washing and sanitizing hands frequently
  • music, band, arts and sports in schools can resume in full
  • tournaments, concerts and extracurricular activities are permitted
  • planning for graduation can proceed.

More information is available at https://novascotia.ca/backtoschool

In long-term care facilities:

  • residents can have five visitors at a time if the facility can accommodate them
  • larger groups of visitors are permitted for special occasions like a resident’s birthday or anniversary if the facility can accommodate them
  • visitors need to wear a mask and be fully vaccinated, except for end-of-life visits
  • regardless of vaccination status, residents can leave the facility for any reason, including overnight visits with family.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre will continue with mask requirements and visitor restrictions.

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 needs to self-isolate, complete the online self-assessment and book an appointment for testing. People who are at increased risk for severe disease, live in congregate settings or are integral to keeping our health system running are directed to book a PCR test. Everyone else is directed to use rapid tests. People who test positive on a rapid test can book a PCR test to confirm the result.

People should keep a rapid test kit at home in case they need it. Rapid testing can help protect people at increased risk of severe disease, such as people who are older or immunocompromised. Rapid tests continue to be distributed through schools for this purpose and are available in many community locations.

People who test positive for COVID-19 will still be required to self-isolate for seven days from the date symptoms started, or from the date of a positive test if there are no symptoms. There is no requirement to notify contacts outside a person’s household but people are encouraged to do so, especially for those who are at increased risk. Contacts are not required to isolate as long as they are symptom-free and test negative, whether they live with the person who tested positive or not.

Quick Facts:

  • the state of emergency in Nova Scotia ends on Sunday, March 20, at 11:59 p.m.
  • masking will continue in high-risk settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, facilities operated by Department of Community Services, home care and provincial jails; public service staff are encouraged to wear masks