Nova Scotia will be tightening the border with New Brunswick, effective Saturday.

As of 8 a.m. Saturday, anyone coming into the province from New Brunswick must complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form before arriving and self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

"What we are saying is, do not go to New Brunswick, and New Brunswickers, do not come here, unless it is for essential purposes," said Premier Stephen McNeil during Friday's news conference.

Nova Scotians returning from New Brunswick must also self-isolate for 14 days, unless they are exempt from the order.

Any Nova Scotian who has returned from New Brunswick in the last two weeks is asked to self-isolate immediately and go online and book a COVID-19 test, even if they don't have symptoms. 

The tightened border restrictions were announced following a surge of cases in New Brunswick this week, with the province reporting a single-day record of 31 new cases on Wednesday.

Nova Scotia reported only two new cases on Friday.

"Our case numbers are improving in Nova Scotia and we want to keep it that way," added McNeil. "Given the sharp rise in cases in New Brunswick, we are taking the step of tightening our border to limit opportunities for the virus to spread."

The public health order exempts some people from self-isolation if they do not have symptoms:

  • certain workers who must travel for their jobs, including people who routinely cross the land border for work
  • people who are dropping off or picking up a child within about 24 hours as part of a legal custody agreement
  • people travelling to and from essential health services, with one accompanying support person
  • people can participate in a legal proceeding but must otherwise self-isolate  

"While our case numbers are improving, we are not out of the woods yet, especially given the risk of importing cases through travel from other jurisdictions," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. "We continue to ask people not to travel unless it's necessary, follow all the public health measures, and get tested, even if you don't have symptoms, to help protect your families, friends and communities."

Travel into the province from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador is still permitted, and residents do not have to self-isolate, provided they drive straight through New Brunswick to Nova Scotia with no, or minimal stops.

VACCINATIONS START MONDAY AT LONG-TERM CARE HOMES

Meanwhile, residents at long-term care homes will start receiving the COVID vaccine on Monday.

"This is a week earlier than we originally planned and the first residents to start receiving the vaccine will be at Northwood's Halifax and Bedford campuses," said Strang.

Vaccinations are also set to start in Cape Breton next week.

SCHOOLS TO REOPEN MONDAY

Schools in Nova Scotia will reopen on Monday as scheduled.

Sports and arts activities involving multiple schools will not resume at this time. Community use of school gyms for sport and physical activity can resume, as long as provincial guidelines are followed.

The province also announced new guidelines for schools, which will allow for increased access to music education, allowing singing and playing instruments.

RETAIL CAPACITY INCREASED, CASINOS ALLOWED TO REOPEN

Retail establishments in Nova Scotia will now be able to increase their capacity to 50 per cent of their usual, up from 25 per cent.

“All the other COVID protocols that are in place in stores have to be maintained. That seems to me to be a very low-risk way to allow them to accommodate some more business. They were very tightly restricted over the holidays with significant impacts, but in my mind, it is not introducing a significant increase of COVID spread,” said Strang.

As well, the Halifax casino, VLTs and First Nations gaming establishments can reopen in areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County.

TWO NEW CASES

Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. With one previously-reported case now considered recovered, the number of active cases in the province has increased to 29.

One case is in the province's Central Zone and the other case is in the Eastern Zone. Both cases are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada and the individuals are self-isolating.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs completed 1,831 Nova Scotia tests on Thursday.

There were 558 tests administered between Sunday and Thursday at the rapid-testing pop-up sites in Halifax.

“This week has started to paint a picture of the impact of the holiday season and what it has done related to our COVID-19 numbers but it is still early. It’s been two weeks since Christmas but just one week since New Year’s. The good news is that the numbers are still encouraging,” said Strang. “Most of our numbers are linked to other known cases or to travel outside of the province, and the number of close contacts or potential exposures continues to remain low.”

CASE BREAKDOWN

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 124,483 COVID-19 tests and confirmed 437 positive COVID-19 cases. Of those, 408 cases are now considered resolved, leaving 29 active cases.

No one has died during the second wave.

There is no one in hospital as a result of COVID-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, Nova Scotia has completed 247,661 tests, and reported a total of 1,526 cases of COVID-19. Of those, 1,432 cases are now considered resolved and 65 people have died as a result of the novel coronavirus.

The province's confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

Fifty-five per cent of cases are female and 45 per cent are male.

There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central Zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.

The numbers reflect where a person lives and not where their sample was collected.

  • Western Zone: 87 cases
  • Central Zone: 1,256 cases
  • Northern Zone: 112 cases
  • Eastern Zone: 71 cases

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to Jan. 24.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION

Anyone present at the following location on the specified date and time is asked to go online or call 811 to book a COVID-19 test regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Starbucks Windmill Road (11 Cuddy Ln, Dartmouth)
  • Jan. 3 between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • May develop symptoms up to, and including, Jan. 17, 2021.

COVID ALERT APP

Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.

The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

LIST OF SYMPTOMS

Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion

SELF-ISOLATION AND MANDATORY MASKS

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.

Anyone who travels to Nova Scotia from all provinces other than P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador for non-essential reasons is required to self-isolate for 14 days and must fill out a self-declaration form before coming to the province. Travellers must self-isolate alone, away from others. If they cannot self-isolate alone, their entire household must also self-isolate for 14 days.

Residents of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are not required to self-isolate when travelling to Nova Scotia, but they must be prepared to provide proof of their place of residency at provincial borders.

Visitors from outside the Atlantic region who have already self-isolated in another Atlantic province for 14 days may travel to Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate again.

It is mandatory to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces in Nova Scotia.