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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 https://tourismns.ca/coronavirus

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

What are the current travel restrictions?

Travel from outside Canada (International):

At this time, both the federal and provincial governments have public health measures in place related to international travel.

The Government of Canada has temporarily restricted non-essential travel to the country to Canadians and permanent residents, with some exceptions. Find out if you can come to Canada here: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/wizard-start 

As of August 9, 2021, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents of the United States (U.S.), currently residing in the U.S., are permitted to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) travel.

As of September 7, 2021,foreign nationals who qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption can enter Canada for discretionary travel.

Effective September 9, 2021, international travellers who are coming relatively directly to Nova Scotia do not need to complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form.

For more information please visit COVID-19: Travel, testing, quarantine and borders - Travel.gc.ca. Be sure to check the site frequently, as conditions may change quickly.

Note for international travellers departing from Nova Scotia:

Travellers are responsible for learning the rules and travel restrictions of the airline and the country they are travelling to. Travellers can check on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website for more information. You can input the source and destination Country to view any restrictions and requirements: https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/ 

COVID tests required for travel can be booked through PRAXES (PCR) or Switch Health (PCR + Antigen). Please visit these sites for further details on pricing and scheduling.

Travellers are responsible for the costs for tests required for travel. 

Travel from within Canada (domestic):

People coming from provinces and territories outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador, must complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form and upload your proof of vaccination if you have it. Your isolation requirements are based on vaccination status and testing:

  • People who are fully vaccinated do not have to self-isolate but testing is still recommended.
  • Effective September 9, people who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for at least 7 days and cannot leave isolation until they get 2 negative tests results.

Fully vaccinated means you had two doses of a World Health Organization approved vaccine (or 1 dose of Janssen) at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia. The tests must be standard PCR lab tests. They cannot be rapid tests. They must be done in Nova Scotia, not in advance of arrival. Tests should be on day 1 or 2 and on day 6 or 7.

For people arriving in Halifax or Sydney by air, they can get their first test at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport or JA Douglas McCurdy Airport. All travellers can book tests online at testing sites around the province.

Children under the age of 19 need to be included on the form of the least vaccinated adult who they are traveling with and they follow the same isolation requirements as that adult.

Travel from within Atlantic Canada (regional):

People travelling from Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador can enter Nova Scotia for any reason and no longer have to self-isolate or complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form. 

Effective 8 am on August 25, people traveling from New Brunswick can follow the NS NB travel protocol if their reason for travel is covered by it. If not, they must follow the same rules as all provinces and territories outside Atlantic Canada. They must complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in and upload  proof of vaccination if applicable. Their isolation requirements are based on vaccination status and testing.

Travel from within Nova Scotia (local):

Nova Scotians can travel within the province while adhering to public health guidelines.

Who can come to Nova Scotia without isolating?

Effective September 9, 2021

  • Residents of Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador who have only traveled within those provinces
    • No self-isolation requirements
    • No vaccine requirements
    • No Safe Check-in Form required
    • Must have identification confirming residence in one of the Atlantic provinces
  • Residents of any Canadian province or territory outside of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador with two doses of vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia
    • No self-isolation requirements
    • Testing is recommended but not required
    •  Safe Check-in Form is required - https://travel-declaration.novascotia.ca/en
      • Approval is often automatic on the condition that you upload proof of vaccination.
    • You must also have your Safe Check-in confirmation and proof of vaccination to show border officials if asked. 
    • Children under the age of 19 follow the same protocols as the least vaccinated adult in the group (unless they are traveling alone, in which case they isolate based on their own vaccination status).
       
  • People who have already spent 14 days in Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador
    • No self-isolation requirements
    • No vaccine requirements
    • No Safe Check-in Form required
    • Some form of proof that you spent 14 days in Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador, such as hotel bill or gas/food receipts is required
       
  • Fully vaccinated international travellers if they meet the federal entry criteria.
    • Must follow federal entry requirements including testing
    • Safe Check-in Form is NOT required
Who can come to Nova Scotia and still needs to isolate?
  • People coming from provinces and territories outside of Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador with one dose of vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia, or who received their second dose of vaccine less than 14 days before arrival, or no doses before arrival.
    • Self-isolation for at least seven days. To stop isolation at seven days, they must get two negative tests results while in Nova Scotia; tests should be on day one or two and on day five or six. Otherwise, they can isolate for 14 days with no testing requirement.
    • Safe Check-in Form is required - https://travel-declaration.novascotia.ca/en You must also have your Safe Check-in confirmation and proof of vaccination to show border officials if asked.
    • Children under the age of 19 follow the same protocols as the least vaccinated adult in the group (unless they are traveling alone, in which case they isolate based on their own vaccination status)
       
  • People coming from provinces and territories outside of Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador who have a letter from Public Health in a Canadian province or territory stating that they’ve recovered from COVID-19 less than 12 weeks before arriving in Nova Scotia and are partially vaccinated (first dose of COVID-19 vaccine) at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia.
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. There is an exception if you have a completely separate living quarters. For more information, see https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/restrictions-and-guidance/#self-isolation-requirements

Are there exceptions to the travel restrictions or self-isolation requirements for travellers who are vaccinated?

For exemptions to self-isolation requirements, please visit: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/restrictions-and-guidance/#exemptions

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must follow public health guidelines such as social distancing, gathering restrictions, and mask requirements while they are in Nova Scotia.

What are the guidelines for Children under the age of 19?
  • If a group, such as a family, is entering the province together and staying together in Nova Scotia, each adult needs their own Safe Check-in form and children under the age of 19 are to be included on the form of the least vaccinated adult in the group.
    • They can all stay in the same place and interact with each other.
      • For example, if a family arrives together and the father is fully vaccinated 14 days before arriving but the mother has no vaccination, the father is able to come and go while the mother and children isolate for 14 days. The children should be included on the mother’s Safe Check-in form.
  • If a child is 16 or older and traveling alone, they complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form for themselves (or a parent completes it in the child’s name) and they need to upload the child’s proof of vaccination status. Isolation is based on the child’s vaccination status and testing.
  • If a child under the age of 16 is traveling alone, then the parent or adult who is picking up the child when they arrive in Nova Scotia needs to complete the form for the child. They complete the form in their own name (even though the adult is not traveling) and add the child to their form. They need to upload proof of the child’s vaccination status. The child’s isolation is based on their own vaccination status and testing.
  • If an adult or child is traveling for child custody reasons, they need to follow the child custody protocol: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/COVID-19-Protocol-for-child-custody-en.pdf
What documents are required when you enter Nova Scotia?

People Travelling from Outside Canada

Anyone coming from outside of Canada falls under the federal Quarantine Act and will first require permission from the federal government to enter the country. 

In addition to federal processes, international travellers need to complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form. They receive automatic approval which they must show to border officials. Fully vaccinated international travellers should be prepared to show their proof of vaccination to border officials, if asked.

People Travelling from Canadian Provinces and Territories Outside of Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador

People travelling from other regions of Canada must apply through the  Nova Scotia Safe Check-in. Approvals are often automatic if you upload your proof of vaccination. You should have your Safe Check-in confirmation and proof of vaccination available to show border officials if asked.

People Travelling from Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador

Adults (and children/youth traveling on their own) should be prepared to show border officials one or more of the following to prove that they live in PEI or Newfoundland or Labrador:

  • government-issued identification card
  • driver's license
  • passport
  • utility bill or bank statement that shows your permanent home address
  • Secure Certificate of Indian Status

 

When are international travellers allowed to come to Canada for discretionary/tourism travel?
  • Effective August 9, 2021: Canada will begin allowing entry to fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents (currently residing in the US) for discretionary travel (tourism, business events, etc). If they meet the entry criteria, fully vaccinated travellers will not have to quarantine upon arrival to Canada. 
     
  • Effective September 7, 2021: The Government of Canada will open its borders for discretionary travel by fully vaccinated travellers from any country who meet entry requirements.

Note: Canada currently has a ban in place on flights from India due to the severity of that country's outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19. That ban is being extended to at least September 21, 2021.

What are the entry requirements for international travellers to come to Canada?
  • Travellers are no longer required to stay at a government-authorized hotel
  • All travellers must use ArriveCAN (app or web portal) to submit their travel information.
  • All travellers five years of age or older to Canada, regardless of vaccination status, are required to have a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular negative test result within 72 hours of entry into Canada or within the scheduled departure time of your flight.
    • More information about testing requirements can be found here.
    • Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, but continue to test positive, will be required to present a positive COVID-19 molecular test result on a specimen taken 14 to 180 days prior to arrival in Canada as part of the pre-arrival test requirements.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers who meet the requirements will be exempt from quarantine.
    • Fully vaccinated travellers are people who have gone two weeks (14 days) since a full course of one of the four COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada -- Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.
    • Border officials will want to see a paper or digital copy of vaccination documentation, and a certified translation of same if the original is not in either English or French.
  • Children under 12 who are accompanied by fully vaccinated adults can also enter Canada without quarantining but will be required to wear a mask in public and avoid group settings, such as schools, day cares and summer camps during the first 14 days after their arrival.
  • Unvaccinated travellers permitted to travel to Canada must quarantine for 14 days with mandatory on-arrival and Day 8 testing.
  • All travellers, vaccinated or not, must present a suitable quarantine plan in case quarantine is required.
How do international travellers come to Nova Scotia?

​​​​​​ All international travelers who are permitted to enter Canada can also enter Nova Scotia and must follow the federal requirements:

  • International travelers who were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Canada do not have to quarantine. They must still meet other federal requirements including pre- and on-arrival testing.
  • All other international travelers must complete 14 days of quarantine in Canada and get a second negative test result to stop isolating after 14 days.

International travelers who are coming relatively directly to Nova Scotia do not need to complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form. However, any international travelers who completed their 14 days of quarantine outside Nova Scotia must follow the Nova Scotia’s rules for domestic travelers and isolate based on vaccination status and testing when they arrive in the province.

All questions about international travel should be directed to the Canada Border Services Agency: English 1-800-461-9999 / French 1-800-959-2036 / outside Canada: 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064 / tccu-ustcc@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca

If travellers require a COVID test to go to another country or return to their country of origin, how do they book a test?

Travellers are responsible for learning the rules and travel restrictions of the airline and the country they are travelling to. Travellers can check on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website for more information. You can input the source and destination Country to view any restrictions and requirements: https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/ 

COVID tests required for travel can be booked through PRAXES (PCR) or Switch Health (PCR + Antigen). Please visit these sites for further details on pricing and scheduling.

Please note, travellers are responsible for the costs for tests required for travel. 

Where can I point my customers to get more information about travel restrictions and public health guidelines?

Travellers can find more information about public health guidelines at the following links:

Can I accept bookings from out of province travellers? What if they are for less than required self-isolation periods?

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. Ensure your current business policies, including cancellation and refund policies, are clear and up-to-date on your website and in all communication with your customers.

What resources and supports are available to help tourism businesses deal with the impacts of COVID-19?

See the latest COVID-19 programs, resources and supports for tourism businesses. Any changes or additions to programs or resources will be added to this page as necessary. However, we encourage you to visit program pages directly for eligibility and application details.

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: http://www.hotelassociation.ca/coronavirus/

Are campgrounds allowed to open?

Private campgrounds can open for seasonal and short-term camping as of June 2, 2021. 

Campgrounds must follow the current public health guidelines regarding business restrictions and gathering limits, in addition to sector-specific guidelines. 

See Campground Sector Guidelines
 

Can businesses refuse service to customers if they are not fully vaccinated or have travelled outside of the region in the last 14 days?

Businesses understandably want to protect their staff and customers from COVID-19. While public health strongly encourages everyone who is eligible to get fully vaccinated, it is not mandatory and some people are not able to be vaccinated. We cannot refuse service to people just because we're afraid they are unvaccinated or may have come into contact with the virus. In fact, refusal of service for this reason could result in a complaint under the Human Rights Act. Businesses who decide to refuse service should be aware of the implications of this action. If a person is following public health rules, a businesses should not be refusing to serve them just because they were in another jurisdiction. 

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: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/restriction-updates/

The Province of Nova Scotia has shared a five-phase Reopening Plan that outlines when various business activities will resume. Nova Scotia will be in Phase 4 of the reopening plan as of July 14.

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

 

Are there restrictions on the number of guests allowed at an accommodation?

Accommodations don’t have specific limits for guests. You need to ensure people can be physically distanced in common areas. Masks are required in common areas.
 

Can I serve meals at my accommodation (ie: breakfast at a B&B)?

Accommodations should follow the same guidelines as restaurants for all meal service, including breakfast served at a B&B. For more information see: https://www.rans.ca/reopening-guidelines

Through the first four phases of reopening, bars and restaurants can operate at their maximum capacity with physical distance between tables. Masks are required when people are not eating or drinking.

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 (https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia/). 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 training@tourism.ca or visit https://tourismstrong.ca/rebuilding/tri/.

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 https://nstourismstrong.ca/clean-it-right/

Can I host an event/festival?

For current public health guidelines regarding festivals and events, including gathering limits, please see https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/restrictions-and-guidance/#gatherings As the situation is evolving, please check this link frequently for updates.

You can also refer to the Province of Nova Scotia's Safe Reopening Plan for more information.

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 are the current guidelines for tours?

Boat and Bus Tours:

Businesses and organizations offering tour bus and boat services can now operate at 100% capacity in phase 4.

Wearing a mask is required. They also need to follow sector-specific plans for other services offered (like serving alcohol). 

Walking Tours:

Walking tours can occur provided that all participants, staff and volunteers follow public health measures according to the setting where they are. This includes using masks in indoor public places (and anywhere it is difficult to maintain physical distance) and respecting gathering limits in some spaces. Generally speaking, most businesses do not have gathering limits, so there is no cap on participants in walking tours. However, some indoor places included in tours like churches, museums, etc may have gathering limits that could impact the number of people that can be included in a tour group. Physical distancing is required indoors and outdoors except between those who are members of the same household or are close social contacts. Given these requirements, businesses and organizations offering walking tours need to be mindful how many people they can safely manage.

Where are people required to wear masks/face coverings in Nova Scotia?

Wearing a non-medical mask is required in most indoor public places and some outdoor public places in Nova Scotia. Children under two are exempt, as well as children two to four when their caregiver can't get them to wear a mask. People with a valid medical reason for not wearing a mask are also exempt.

For more information, including a full list of locations where masks are required, please visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/masks/ 
 

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.