Nova Scotia will move into Phase 5 of its reopening plan at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 15. Wearing masks in indoor public places will no longer be mandatory but remain strongly recommended when people gather in indoor places, and other public health measures like gathering limits and physical distancing will also be lifted.
Health-care facilities will continue to set their own policies for masks and visitation. Businesses and other organizations are also free to set their own mask policies. Masks will be required in schools until Sept. 20 to allow students, staff and teachers time to transition to Phase 5. Wearing masks will continue to be strongly recommended.
Border measures will remain in place. The province will also start requiring proof of full vaccination for non-essential, discretionary, recreation and leisure services and activities on Oct. 4.
“As we transition into Phase 5 and living with COVID, we must be mindful of the impact the fourth wave is having around the world and across the country,” said Premier Tim Houston. “We want to continue opening up our province and our lives in a way that protects Nova Scotians and minimizes the impact of the Delta variant and fourth wave on our people, our health-care system and our economy.”
As of Oct. 4, proof of full vaccination will be required for Nova Scotians who are 12 or older to participate in discretionary, recreational or non-essential activities such as dining out, going to a fitness facility, or going to a movie, theatre performance, concert or sporting event. The proof of vaccination requirement does not apply to children 11 years of age and under because they are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Children age 11 and under who attend these activities with a fully vaccinated adult will be allowed to participate.
People are considered to be fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose of a World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccine or the one-dose Janssen vaccine, which is also WHO-approved.
The province will also develop a process for the few people who have medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated. More details about the proof of vaccination policy will become available in the coming weeks.
“Nova Scotians have stepped up in recent weeks and we are so close to our minimum target of 75 percent fully vaccinated that we are confident we can move into Phase 5 safely on September 15,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “It is still up to all of us to do our part to protect our friends, our families and ourselves. One of the most important things you can do, is get vaccinated.”
The province is also making some changes to border and self-isolation requirements effective Thursday, Sept. 9, at 8 a.m.:
— international travellers will no longer have to fill out the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form because the federal government has increased monitoring their compliance with the Quarantine Act
— the isolation requirement for unvaccinated domestic travellers changes from 14 days to a minimum seven days; to stop isolating after seven days, they will need two negative test results, the same as travellers who have one dose of vaccine
— people who are identified as close contacts of COVID-19 cases and have had two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, or a combination of any two of them, are considered optimally protected and do not have to self-isolate unless otherwise directed by public health
— people who have had the one-dose Janssen vaccine or one or two doses of any other WHO-approved vaccine can become optimally protected if they get an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine; an additional dose will be made available to anyone who meets any of these criteria and can be booked online or by phone
— as of Sept. 15, the only restrictions that will remain in place for the general population within Nova Scotia are those related to management of COVID-19 cases; anyone with symptoms must still get tested, isolate while they wait for results and continue to isolate if they test positive
— regular asymptomatic testing will no longer be recommended in Phase 5; it will still be available for incoming travellers who require it, as well as close contacts of confirmed cases and anyone else who is directed by public health to get tested
— domestic travellers can still enter Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate if they have had the Janssen vaccine or two doses of any other WHO-approved vaccine at least 14 days before arriving
— anyone who has already had three doses of any COVID-19 vaccine and anyone who has had two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, or a combination of them, is not eligible to receive an additional dose
— case reporting will transition from weekday to weekly in Phase 5