On March 22, 2020, the Nova Scotia government declared a state of emergency. The province has taken some province-wide and regional measures to protect the health and safety of their residents and to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
These measures include that all public schools and day cares remain closed until April 3, 2020, group gatherings are limited to 50 people or fewer and restaurants will be limited to providing take out and/or delivery food as of March 19, 2020. Further, all elective surgeries in the province have been indefinitely postponed.
The Province of Nova Scotia, under the authority of the Health Protection Act, is requiring anyone who has travelled outside Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon return, even if they are symptom-free.
Organizations and businesses are required to practise social distancing of 2 metres (6 feet).
University students from Nova Scotia who are still living in residences need to go home in order to provide space for social distancing for those students from outside the province who are not able to travel.
The Halifax Regional Municipality has restricted public transit by only allowing passengers on transit if a seat is available (i.e., standing passengers are no longer permitted), and has been encouraging employees to work from home.
You can read more at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#alerts.
The government has not yet indicated if they plan to amend employment/labour standards and implement other measures to support employers and employees. We will keep you updated.
Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency Sunday, March 22, 2020, in the face of COVID-19, limiting social gatherings to no more than five people. Police are now authorized to enforce orders under the Health Protection Act related to self-isolation and social distancing and can issue summary offence tickets for people who do not adhere to those orders.
Effective immediately, individuals can be fined $1,000 for each violation of the Health Protection Act. Businesses and corporations can be fined $7,500 for each violation, and for each subsequent day. Individuals and businesses can be fined on multiple days if they fail to comply with the law. Businesses can also be fined for charging higher than fair market price for goods and services.
On March 27, 2020, The government announced a rent-deferral program for small business operators who were forced to close under the public health order. Landlords will be asked to sign a rent-deferral agreement. The government will guarantee $5,000 a month to prevent a business’ permanent closure over an inability to pay rent.
Individuals that have been in close contact with confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 have been directed to self-isolate for 14 days. The government is encouraging retail and commercial landlords to defer lease payments for the next three months for businesses that had to close due to a public health order. Landlords may not change locks or seize property of businesses who cannot pay rent, if the business closed due to a public health order. Starting March 30, 2020, restaurants may include alcohol with takeout and delivery orders if the cost of the alcohol is not more than three times the value of the food.
March 30, 2020: All public schools and licensed child care providers will remain closed until at least May 1, 2020. Students will have access to e-learning or at-home learning materials for students without internet access. Students will proceed to the next grade or graduate in the usual timeframe.
On March 31, 2020, the Nova Scotia government released further information on the COVID-19 Rent Deferral Support Program. The program is intended to indemnify eligible commercial landlords for losses incurred from rent deferrals to businesses directly impacted by the government’s Health Protection Act Order
On March 31, 2020, the Nova Scotia government launched a “COVID-19 Employer Assessment Tool”. This assessment tool is designed to help businesses and non-profits determine if they may remain open and how they can comply with public health orders and workplace safety requirements.
On April 2, 2020, the government announced two programs to support individuals and businesses:
1. The Worker Emergency Bridge Fund, intended to assist those who are self-employed or have been laid-off and do not qualify for Employment Insurance. The fund will provide a one-time $1,000 payment to help bridge the gap until the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit comes into effect; and
2. The Small Business Impact Grant, which will allow eligible small business and social enterprises to receive a one-time grant of 15% of their gross revenues (based on April 2019 or February 2020 gross revenues), to a maximum of $5,000. This grant will can be used for any purpose.
Eligibility for these programs is not affected by a person or business being enrolled in another provincial program or any federal assistance initiative. An announcement on when applications for the programs will be available is expected early next week.
On April 3, 2020, the Nova Scotia state of emergency that was declared by the government on March 22, 2020, and scheduled to end on April 5, 2020, has been extended until April 19, 2020.
On April 9, 2020, the Medical Officer of Health’s Order was amended with new requirements, including all out-of-province workers in the fishing and offshore industry must self-isolate for 14 days upon entering the province. Workers may self-isolate on their vessel, and all temporary foreign workers must self-isolate for 14 days upon entering the province.
On April 9, 2020, the Nova Scotia government announced that its Worker Emergency Bridge Fund and its Small Business Impact Grant (previously introduced on April 2, 2020 and outlined above) will open for applications on Friday, April 10, 2020.
The Worker Emergency Bridge Fund is a one-time payment of $1,000 for Nova Scotians who are laid off or out of work because of COVID-19, who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance, and who earn between $5,000 and $34,000. Applications will be taken via telephone and more details can be found here.
The Small Business Impact Grant is a one-time grant for eligible small business, non-profits, charities and other social enterprises of up to $5,000. Applications will open online on Friday, April 10, 2020. The deadline to apply is April 25, 2020. More information can be found here.
April 13, 2020: The Government of Nova Scotia announced front-line workers in long-term care homes, residential care facilities and home-care agencies will be expected to wear masks.
On April 15, 2020: The government released Guidance for Temporary Foreign Workers (“TFWs”) employed in the agriculture and seafood sectors. The Guidance touches on how TFWs can travel into and self-isolate in the province, the required education for TFWs on safety measures, hygiene, and physical distancing, and workplace protocols for employers employing TFWs. General guidance for all employers can be found here. The government has not yet indicated if they plan to amend employment/labour standards and implement other measures to support employers and employees. We will keep you updated.
April 17, 2020: The government extended the provincial State of Emergency to May 3, 2020.
On April 20, 2020, in response to the mass shooting in Portapique and surrounding communities which took place over the weekend, the government clarified that no exceptions will be made to the 14-day self-isolation required by the Nova Scotia Health Protection Act Order for non-essential individuals entering the province. Media personnel from outside the province are considered by the government to be non-essential and subject to 14 days of isolation once they’ve entered the province. Individuals were reminded that all public gatherings must be limited to 5 people or less, and to mourn safely while maintaining social distancing.
On April 21, 2020, the government and the Nova Scotia Health Authority (the “NSHA”) established an emergency response plan focused on a COVID-19 outbreak at a Halifax-based long-term care facility. This plan includes establishing a recovery unit at a local hotel for residents who have recovered from COVID-19. Measures are also being put in place to ensure sufficient staffing for resident care, current staff relief, and operations management with the assistance of college and university students in related programs, the Victorian Order of Nurses, the Red Cross, provincial emergency health services, government staff, and staff from other long-term care facilities.
On April 23, 2020, the government announced that any extra dispensing fees will be waived for individuals on pharmacare who are having their prescriptions filled more frequently than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in line with the Nova Scotia College of Pharmacists’ recommendation that individuals have their prescriptions dispensed every 30 days (instead of every 60 or 90 days) to protect the province’s drug supply.
The province will also waive the $5.00 prescription co-pay for clients of the Income Assistance program and the Low Income Pharmacare for Children program.
These temporary measures take effect April 23, 2020.
On April 24, 2020, the government announced a Small Business Credit Support Program for businesses which are ineligible for the federal CEBA program.
To be eligible, small businesses must:
- have had a payroll of less than $20,000 in their last fiscal year; and
- all out-of-province and foreign licence plates and driver licences are valid until August 31, 2020.
The program will provide a government-guaranteed credit union loan of up to $25,000 and a small cash grant of up to $1,500. Business will also receive free professional advice on how to adapt and recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19.
The government also confirmed it will partner with the federal government to provide $9-million in commercial rent relief for small businesses that have temporarily closed or experienced a revenue decline of at least 70%.
The government also announced extensions for some Registry of Motor Vehicle Services.
On April 28, 2020, the government announced a $380-million loan program to help municipalities with financial losses due to COVID-19. Eligible municipalities will have six months to begin repayment, and three years to fully repay the loan.
The government also announced that all schools and daycares will remain closed until at least May 18, 2020.
On May 1, 2020, the Nova Scotia government extended (PDF) the provincial State of Emergency until May 17, 2020.
The government also announced the immediate easing of some public health measures and that certain businesses, services, and areas may now reopen. For more see Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.
On May 8, 2020, the Nova Scotia government confirmed that schools will not reopen for the remaining school year.
The government also announced the Essential Health Care Workers Program, which will provide a payment of $2,000 to eligible front line workers, including employees of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, IWK Health Centre and those who work in long-term care, home care and in-home support and emergency health services. Employees who volunteered to be redeployed to work at a facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak will also receive this benefit.
On May 15, 2020, the Nova Scotia government extended the provincial state of emergency to May 31, 2020.
On the weekend of May 23-24, 2020, the Nova Scotia government has expanded its list of COVID-19 symptoms. If an individual has one of the following, 811 Nova Scotia should be consulted to determine if further testing is necessary:
- fever (i.e. chills, sweats);
- cough or worsening of a previous cough;
- sore throat;
- shortness of breath;
- muscle aches;
- nasal congestion/runny nose;
- hoarse voice;
- unusual fatigue;
- loss of sense of smell or taste; or
- red, purple or blueish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers without clear cause.
On May 25, 2020, the Nova Scotia government issued a Direction of the Minister under a Declared State of Emergency relating to village elections.
On May 27, 2020, the Nova Scotia government announced $230-million in stimulus spending for the province.
On May 29, 2020, the Nova Scotia government renewed the provincial state of emergency until June 14, 2020.
The Nova Scotia government also announced that employers who have front-line workers contract COVID-19 due to their work will not have the costs of those workplace injury insurance claims impact their industry rate or individual experience ratings. This means that instead of an individual employer or industry having their rates affected by costs from claims related to COVID-19, they will be absorbed by the employer base as a whole. Employer premium payments will also continue to be deferred until October 2020, including waiving of late fees and interest.
On June 11, 2020, the Nova Scotia government announced incubator funding agreements to help start-up companies emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 15, 2020, the Nova Scotia government extended the provincial state of emergency until June 28, 2020.
On June 22, 2020, the Nova Scotia government announced that there are no active COVID-19 cases in the province.
On June 29, 2020, the Nova Scotia government renewed the provincial state of emergency until July 12, 2020.
On July 2, 2020, the Nova Scotia government announced it would extend the deadline for eligible businesses to apply for the Small Business Reopening and Support Grant to July 17, 2020. The program provides grants of up to $5,000 for eligible small businesses, non-profits, charities and social enterprises to resume operations, and vouchers of up to $1,500 that can be used for business advice and support.
Further, beginning July 3, 2020, travel within Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador is permitted without the requirement to self-isolate for Atlantic Canadian residents.
Atlantic Canadians arriving in Nova Scotia will need to provide government-issued identification (like a driver’s licence or health card) or a utility bill or bank statement that shows their permanent home address. A self-declaration form isn’t required to enter Nova Scotia. People from outside Atlantic Canada must continue self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in Nova Scotia. If they have already self-isolated in another Atlantic Canadian province, they may enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating again.
On July 10, 2020, the Nova Scotia government extended the state of emergency until July 26, 2020.
For information on Nova Scotia’s reopening plan and measures see Governments re-opening plan and workplace issues to think of.