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COVID-19 Tourism Industry Frequently Asked Questions

It can be challenging to make decisions for your business with so much uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism Nova Scotia is making every effort to ensure tourism operators have up-to-date information and access to resources that can help you with your business during this time.

For general information and updates about COVID-19 and tourism, visit

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions for tourism businesses.

Travel and Border Restriction

Can international visitors come to Canada?

The Government of Canada has temporarily restricted non-essential travel to the country to Canadians and permanent residents, with some exceptions. More information can be found here.

Please visit for more information. Be sure to check the site frequently, as conditions may change quickly.

All travellers to Canada are required to have adequate self-isolation plans. This is mandatory at all Canadian border crossings and airports. Those with inadequate self-isolation plans will be required to self-isolate for two weeks in a quarantine location, like a hotel. 

All air travellers 5 years of age or older will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada. Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine. See the Government of Canada guidelines.

All travellers are encouraged to submit the required information through ArriveCAN by using the mobile app or by signing in online before they arrive to avoid additional delays for public health questioning and to limit points of contact at the border.

Effective November 21, 2020, air travellers whose final destination is Canada will be required to submit their information electronically through ArriveCAN before they board their flight. During their quarantine or isolation period, all travellers to Canada regardless of mode of travel, will also be required to submit information through ArriveCAN or by calling the 1-833-641-0343 toll-free number.

Further information is available here.

Can Canadian visitors come to Nova Scotia?

People travelling from outside PEI or Newfoundland and Labrador for non-essential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in Nova Scotia. Everyone in the home where they are self-isolating will have to self-isolate as well. Nobody in that home can leave the property for 14 days and they cannot have visitors.

If they have already self-isolated in PEI or Newfoundland and Labrador, they may enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating again. 

Every adult (age 18 or older) arriving from outside PEI or Newfoundland and Labrador needs to complete a Safe Check-in Form before they travel to the province. You can complete and submit the Safe Check-in Form online here:

When you arrive in Nova Scotia you need show that you submitted the form by providing the confirmation email you receive after submitting the form online. You also need to provide government-issued identification (like a Drivers Licence or Health Card) or a utility bill or bank statement that shows your permanent home address. 

Travellers also need to follow public health directives while they're in Nova Scotia. 

Can Atlantic Canadian residents come to Nova Scotia?

Effective November 23, the Council of Atlantic Premiers have recommended caution regarding non-essential travel within the Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador). Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador have also adopted additional measures. Please visit the below websites for the latest information

People travelling from New Brunswick must self-isolate for 14 days. Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island are permitted to travel to and within Nova Scotia without the requirement to isolate.

  • Every adult will need to show either a drivers' licence, government identification card, health card, or a utility bill or bank statement with a valid Newfoundland and Labrador or PEI address to provincial officials at airports, ferries or the land border when they arrive in the province. No self-declaration form is required to enter Nova Scotia.
  • PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador residents also need to follow public health directives while they're in Nova Scotia.
Can Nova Scotians travel within Nova Scotia?

Nova Scotians need to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep everyone safe. Nova Scotians are asked to make careful and informed decisions about the travel they engage in to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. You should consider the following measures when travelling within the province:

  • check current public health guidance about travel within the province at
  • follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines during all activities 
  • consult with businesses in advance as to their health and safety protocols
  • observe physical distancing of two metres or six feet when gathering in groups of up to 50
  • keep your hands clean (if you have hand sanitizer, bring it with you)
  • follow cough and sneeze etiquette
  • consider wearing a non-medical mask
  • stay home if you’re feeling sick
When will the 14-day self-isolation requirement be lifted?

There has been no date set for the removal of the 14-day self-isolation requirement. As the situation continues to evolve, all end-dates for restrictions are considered fluid and could be lifted or extended at any time.

Can I accept bookings from out of province travellers? What if they are for less than 14 days?

Yes, you can accept bookings from out of province travellers. We recommend sharing information with customers about travel restrictions and requirements to self-isolate to ensure they are fully aware of their obligations at the time of booking.

What is my responsibility as an accommodation operator to ensure my guests follow directives to self-isolate for 14 days if they have been outside of the province?

Your guests may not be aware of this provincial directive, or how it impacts them. The check-in process is a good time to remind guests of the restrictions and protocols in place to protect themselves and others. It is recommended that staff do not question guests or make assumptions regarding their health.

Consider creating a resource page that could be distributed to each room outlining the provincial guidelines as well as steps the hotel has taken to protect the health and safety of guests.

If you are aware of someone not following the Public Health directive, have a conversation with them first – they may need help. However, if you still have concerns following a discussion with your guest and believe there may be a risk to public health, you may call a non-emergency number for the police that serve your community. Do not call 911.

The Hotel Association of Canada has created hotel-specific resources including a FAQ for taking care of employees and guests, and guidelines for modified operations which may be of use to you:

What are the restrictions at Canada’s airports?

All air passengers are required to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel to and from Canadian airports.

All international passenger flight arrivals have been redirected to 1 of 4 airports:

  • Calgary International Airport
  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Toronto’s Pearson International Airport
  • Montréal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

Several airlines have suspended or limited commercial flights. Please check with your airline directly regarding flight status if you have a scheduled flight.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport is working with the PHAC and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to facilitate and implement health-screening measures at the airport. Find more information about measures underway at Halifax Stanfield here.

Can cruise ships stop in Nova Scotia?

The Government of Canada has deferred the start of the cruise ship season in Canada to February 28, 2021 at the earliest. See the news release from Transport Canada.

Are post-secondary students coming from outside Atlantic Canada required to self-isolate for 14 days before attending classes? Are there other requirements for students?

Every post-secondary student travelling into Nova Scotia from outside PEI or Newfoundland and Labrador needs to complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form (self-declaration) before they travel to the province. When they arrive in Nova Scotia, students must self-isolate for 14 days.

Students should avoid taking public transportation (like a taxi, bus or shuttle) if possible. If students do need to take public transportation to get to the place they’ll be self-isolating, they should wear a mask and keep a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others, as much as they can. Students should only take public transportation if they don't have COVID-19 symptoms.

Once students are in the province, they need to complete a digital check in each day of their isolation period. If you don’t check in daily, the school will be notified and they’ll try to help you comply with the check in.

Starting 4 January 2021, testing for COVID-19 is available for students on day 6, 7 or 8 of their self-isolation if they don’t have symptoms.

See Guidelines for Post-Secondary Students

Do I have to self-isolate for 14 days if I am dropping off a post-secondary student in Nova Scotia and returning home?

Individuals dropping off students must self-isolate for the period of time they’re in the province other than when they’re doing the drop off and follow social distancing guidelines and public health measures.

This means you do not go shopping, do not get groceries etc, do not go to restaurants, do not visit/ explore the community, etc. You can leave the province anytime (ie, you do not need to stay here for 14 days). When returning home, you should make as few stops in Nova Scotia as possible. You must self-isolate as much as you can, stay 2 metres/6 feet away from others, and wear a mask in indoor public places.

If you are dropping off a student on campus, please follow the university’s rules for this process.

Do I have to self-isolate if someone is completing their self-isolation period in my home?

Yes, everyone in the home where a person is self-isolating will have to self-isolate as well. Nobody in that home can leave the property for 14 days and they cannot have visitors.


Business Operational Guidelines

What businesses are allowed to open and under what restrictions?

Business and service restrictions are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. The latest restriction updates can be found here:

Businesses, organizations and health professions that were required to close under the Health Protection Act Order can reopen if they follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans. They also need to have a Workplace COVID-19 Prevention Plan.


Where can I find more information about guidelines for re-opening my business?

To support businesses that are currently open, and those planning to reopen or expand their services, the province has developed an online resource at

The site provides information to help businesses begin to develop plans and procedures to keep themselves, their staff and the public safe. For example, businesses and organizations can use the COVID-19 Prevention Plan Checklist to help create a healthy workplace.

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS), in partnership with Tourism Nova Scotia, is offering tourism businesses guidance and support through the Tourism Reactivation of Industry Program (TRI) to rebuild business, adapt to the evolving tourism environment, and build consumer confidence.

Learn About the TRI Program

Services available to tourism businesses include:

  • Guidance to develop a health and safety plan and protocols for their business in accordance with Nova Scotia’s public health protocols;
  • Counselling and support to adapt their business practices to meet the demands of their customers in the current tourism environment; and
  • Advisory services from financial experts regarding financing options, available government supports, and financial planning to help strengthen their business going forward.

For more information, please contact or visit

What should I include in the COVID-19 operating plan for my business/workplace/organization?

If you’re in an industry that has an association, check with them first to find out if they have a plan for your industry. If not, there is information online ( Also, here are some things to consider, depending on the nature of your business:

  • Support people with their personal measures (e.g. handwashing/sanitizer, tissues/waste baskets, public washrooms, shower before entering swimming pool)
  • Support physical distancing with measures such as limiting the number of people, floor markings, telework, live streaming
  • Use non-medical masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Use PPE in the workplace as determined based on a risk assessment by an employer or individual
  • Screen/assess for symptoms of COVID-19 (active or passive)
  • Use physical barriers (e.g., plexiglass) when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Increase cleaning (washrooms, common spaces, high-touch surfaces, shared equipment)
  • Consider no touch options for bathrooms
  • Increase ventilation such as keeping doors and windows open where possible
  • Increase protective measures for vulnerable populations such as retail hours just for seniors
  • Consider managing merchandise with fewer items available for display/touching. Frequently clean items that are on display
  • Keep a record of clients’ appointments
  • Replace items that customers would often shared with single-use items (e.g., menus)
  • Avoid or manage lineups where possible
  • Consider doing outdoor business where feasible (e.g., sidewalk sales)
  • Keep the environment quiet so people don’t have to raise their voices to be heard
  • Offer hand sanitizer, tissues, and waste baskets in highly visible places

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS), in partnership with Tourism Nova Scotia, is offering tourism businesses guidance and support through the Tourism Reactivation of Industry Program (TRI) to rebuild business, adapt to the evolving tourism environment, and build consumer confidence.

Services available to tourism businesses include:

  • Guidance to develop a health and safety plan and protocols for their business in accordance with Nova Scotia’s public health protocols;
  • Counselling and support to adapt their business practices to meet the demands of their customers in the current tourism environment; and
  • Advisory services from financial experts regarding financing options, available government supports, and financial planning to help strengthen their business going forward.

For more information, please contact or visit

Are there guidelines for keeping my business clean that are specific to the tourism industry?

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS), in partnership with Tourism Nova Scotia, is offering a new Clean it Right training program that provides tourism businesses with clearly defined policies and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting their facilities.

Learn About the Clean it Right Program

The program is available online at no cost for the tourism industry for a limited time. Register at

Can I open my marine tour/whale watching business?

Cruise ships with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 persons are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020.

As of July 1, 2020, all other passenger vessels can resume operations while following Nova Scotia's public health protocols. Marine tour businesses should have a plan in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The plan does not have to be approved by government, but should be communicated to staff and customers. More information is available at .

When travelling by marine modes of transportation, travellers are encouraged to wear non-medical masks or face coverings whenever possible. See the measures from Transport Canada.

Can I host an event/festival?

The measures put in place to help contain the spread of COVID-19 are gradually changing. Keep up to date as Nova Scotia's restrictions change. As restrictions change, you need to continue to follow public health directives.

See the Government of Canada’s Risk-informed Decision Making for Mass Gatherings guide to help you determine if you should cancel or post-pone your event.

What is the operational status of national parks?

Parks Canada is offering limited access and services, including camping, at many National Parks and Historic Sites while maintaining physical distancing measures. Please visit their website for more information.

What is the operational status of provincial and municipal parks, trails, and beaches?

Provincial and municipal parks, trails, and beaches are open depending on seasonal schedules. Gathering limits and social distancing guidelines must be followed.


Non-Medical Mask Policies in Nova Scotia

What are the places where masks will be mandatory?

Non-medical masks are mandatory in the following indoor public places:

  • retail businesses
  • shopping centres
  • personal services businesses such as a hair and nail salons, spas, body art facilities, except during services that require removing a mask
  • restaurants and bars, except while you are eating or drinking
  • places of worship or faith gatherings
  • places for cultural or entertainment services or activities such as movie theatres, concerts, and other performances
  • places for sports and recreational activities such as a gym, pool, or indoor tennis facility, except during an activity where a mask cannot be worn
  • places for events such as conferences and receptions
  • municipal or provincial government locations offering services to the public
  • common areas of tourist accommodations such as lobbies, elevators and hallways
  • common areas of office buildings such as lobbies, elevators and hallways, but not private offices
  • public areas of a university or college campus such as library, student union building or common areas of a faculty building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences
  • train or bus stations, ferry terminals, and airports
What happens if someone refuses to put on a mask or takes it off once they go inside? Can they be refused service or kicked out?

Businesses, workplaces, and other owners with public places can develop their own policies and procedures. They can choose to refuse entry or service to people who are not following the rules.

How can you wear a mask if you’re having a meal or a drink in a restaurant or bar?

You can remove your mask to eat and drink. At any other time in a restaurant, bar or other indoor public place where food is served, you must wear a mask – for example, waiting to be seated, going to the bathroom, and getting ready to leave.


Support for Tourism Businesses

What is ACOA doing to help tourism businesses?
  • The Government of Canada has announced that all Regional Development Agencies, including ACOA, will apply a deferral of three months on all payments due to the government, as of April 1, 2020.
  • If you are a tourism operator or a small- or medium-sized business or organization and have received ACOA funding and COVID-19 is affecting your operations, you are encouraged to contact your local ACOA office. Your local ACOA office can review your situation and provide guidance.
    • You may be eligible to receive additional funding and/or flexible arrangements.
    • Further support will be determined on a case-by-case basis as the situation evolves.
  • If you are a tourism operator or a small- or medium-sized business or organization impacted by the sudden shifts in the economy and need pressing assistance, ACOA could assist you with:
    • Access to federal funding to help you stay in business.
    • Advice and pathfinding services to other federal programs and services available.
  • More information can be found here:
  • ACOA is also administering the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.
What is the provincial government doing to help tourism businesses?
  • Tourism Accommodations Real Property Tax Rebate: The Tourism Accommodations Real Property Tax Rebate Program is a 25% rebate that helps eligible accommodations operators with their 2020-2021 commercial property tax. To receive the rebate, eligible operators must have paid their commercial property tax bill in full or have entered into a payment plan with their municipality. The deadline for applications was 11 December 2020.
  • Access Credit and Maintain Cashflow: The provincial government announced a $161 million package for small and medium-sized businesses to help them access credit and maintain cash flow. This first wave of supports includes:
    • Payment deferrals until June 30 on all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
    • Fees, including business renewal fees and workers compensation premiums, will be deferred. 
    • Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through 15 provincial Credit Unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30.
    • Other changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program including enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000.  For new loans, the first $100,000 will be fully guaranteed by the province.
  • Covid-19 Small Business Credit and Support Program: Starting April 29, the Province of Nova Scotia will offer a temporary stream for access to credit, cash grants, and support delivered through participating credit unions.
    • To be eligible, small businesses must have a payroll less than $20,000 in the previous fiscal year and have experienced a decline in revenue from sales of at least 15 per cent in March or at least 30 per cent in April, May or June.
    • Maximum loan amount is $25,000.  Upon approval, businesses will receive a grant up to $1,500 as well as a COVID-19 Business Continuity Voucher of up to $1,500 to help hire consultants for advice and support.
    • This new stream will be available until June 30. See
  • Access to Training and Business Advice: The Province of Nova Scotia is partnering with Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) to offer education, training and guidance for small businesses. Through a central online hub, the program will connect businesses across the province with support programs available through post-secondary institutions, government, and other regional organizations. To receive follow up from an NSCC regional team member businesses should complete a short intake form at
  • Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program: The provincial government is encouraging landlords to defer payment of commercial leases for three months and spread those payments over the remainder of the lease agreement. Landlords who enter into a rental deferral agreement with their eligible tenants will be able to claim losses of rental income.
    • Program guidelines can be found here:
    • Rental deferral agreements must be in place by Wednesday, April 1 and you must register your intent with the Department of Business by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3, by emailing
    • By April 30, 2020, the landlord must submit an application to the Department of Business which will include an application form and a copy of the deferral agreement. Each landlord will be contacted directly by the Department.
  • COVID 19 Worker Emergency Bridge - The Worker Emergency Bridge will help people who are no longer working and need help as soon as possible. Nova Scotians laid off or out of work on or after March 16, 2020 due to Covid-19, and ineligible for Employment Insurance, are eligible for a one-time, $1,000 payment to help them meet their basic needs.
  • Small Business COVID 19 Impact Grant - Eligible small business can receive a one-time grant of up to 15 per cent of their revenue from sales for either February 2020 or April 2019, at the option of the business owner, to a maximum of $5,000 per enterprise. The deadline to apply is April 25, 2020.
  • Employer Assessment Tool: The provincial government has created an on-line tool to quickly help employers determine if they may remain open, in compliance with current workplace safety requirements.
  • Changes to Registry Of Joint Stock: All Registry of Joint Stock Company (RJSC) renewals due in March, April and May 2020 have been extended to June 30, 2020.
  • Nova Scotia Tender Notices: Are you a business that can supply products and service in support of Nova Scotia’s response to COVID-19? A procurement portal has been developed and includes a list of needed products and services.
  • Update to The Tenancy and Distress for Rent Act. Effective March 31, 2020 at 6 a.m., landlords are not permitted to change locks or seize property of businesses who cannot pay rent, if the business closed directly because of COVID public health orders.
  • Business Navigators: The Province of Nova Scotia has a business navigator service that will continue to be available as a resource to businesses.
What is Tourism Nova Scotia doing to help tourism businesses?
  • Our business development team is available to help you navigate newly announced and already existing programs and resources to support you in moving through and beyond this situation.
  • We also have a resource page on our corporate website ( that links to current information and resources. This web page is updated daily as new information becomes available.
  • We have refunded fees related to advertisements in the Doers & Dreamers Guide for 2020.
  • Our research and sector development teams are currently reaching out directly to a variety of operators to learn more about the impacts and better inform TNS’s response strategy and to help guide discussions with government and other partners about ways to support businesses and organizations through this situation.
  • The Tourism Nova Scotia Webinar Series provides practical information you can use to steer your business through COVID-19 and then rebuild and recover following the pandemic.
  • Customers are more comfortable than ever researching and making purchases online following COVID-19 and it is critical for tourism businesses to have a strong online presence. The Tourism Digital Assistance Program is helping eligible tourism businesses improve their online marketing.
  • We've launched the RADIATE Tourism Program to help tourism businesses and organizations create and market travel packages to appeal to local and Maritime travellers in 2020-21.
  • We're working with the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia to deliver programs to support tourism businesses as they rebuild business, adapt to the evolving tourism environment, and build consumer confidence, including the Clean it Right program and Tourism Reactivation of Industry program.
What other supports are available?


Impact on TNS Operations and Marketing Activities

What is Tourism Nova Scotia doing in response to COVID-19?
  • Public health and safety is our top concern.
  • We are in close communication with Destination Canada, our in-market representatives, and industry partners to ensure a coordinated response to tourism impacts.
    • We are participating in multiple working groups to coordinate communication and mitigation efforts.
  • We are engaged in active contingency planning from the perspective of operations, marketing and industry to be prepared as circumstances change. 
  • The Tourism Nova Scotia Webinar Series provides practical information you can use to steer your business through COVID-19 and then rebuild and recover following the pandemic.
  • We have introduced new programs to help tourism businesses adapt to the COVID-19 travel environment and attract local and regional travellers.
  • We have created resource web pages for the tourism industry ( and for travellers ( The pages contain current information, recommendations, and other resources related to COVID-19. These pages are updated on a continuous basis and important updates are shared through our inTouch newsletter.
What is the impact on TNS’s marketing activities this year?
  • At this time, all marketing campaigns in our key markets of Ontario, Quebec, Northeastern US, UK, Germany and China are on hold until further notice.
  • The most important goal for tourism marketing organizations at this time is to maximize the impact of limited tourism marketing budgets to ensure the strongest recovery possible. 
  • Much of our marketing in international markets like the US, Germany, UK, and China is done in partnership with Destination Canada, the four Atlantic provinces through the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism, tour operators, Halifax Stanfield International Airport and other partners. 
    • We will work collaboratively with all of our partners and in-market representatives to determine next steps. 
  • TNS  launched marketing campaigns aimed at encouraging locals and Maritimers to explore Nova Scotia.