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Nova Scotia rolls back some travel restrictions

Unvaccinated domestic travellers can end their self-isolation after seven days if they've had two negative tests
090921 - CovidUpdateSept8-12
Dr. Robert Strang at a COVID-19 briefing on Sept. 8, 2021

Nova Scotia is expected to enter Phase 5 of its reopening plan next Wednesday, when protocols such as masking, physical distancing and gathering limits will be lifted.

At that time, however, measures at our borders for incoming travellers will remain in place.

"This is key to keeping the virus out of Nova Scotia," explained Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at a Wednesday briefing. 

"Anyone entering from outside Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and P.E.I. who is not fully vaccinated will continue to be required to isolate and be tested."

But that quarantine period won't be as long for domestic travellers.

"Starting Sept. 9, unvaccinated people who have travelled within Canada and enter Nova Scotia no longer need to isolate for 14 days," Strang said. "They must isolate for at least seven days and can not leave isolation until they get two negative test results."

The same rule applies to those who have had only one dose.

The doctor recommends taking the first test shortly after arrival on Day 1 or 2, and the second on Day 5 or 6, so the results are ready by the end of the week.

Strang said most travellers are fully vaccinated so he doesn't expect this to affect many people.

International travellers need to follow the federal government's rules, which require anyone who isn't fully immunized to quarantine for at least 14 days. 

Anyone coming from outside of Canada, regardless of vaccination status, also needs to have recently tested negative for COVID-19 and has to fill out the ArriveCAN app.

Prior to today, they also had to complete a separate Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form, but that's no longer the case.

"The federal government has increased its monitoring to ensure international travellers are meeting their federal quarantine and other requirements, so our Nova Scotia form is no longer required," Strang explained.

Strang said anyone identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case that is fully vaccinated no longer has to self-isolate unless public health specifically says so.

"When we say fully vaccinated, we mean optimally protected with two doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca, or a combination of these vaccines," he stated. 

"Anyone with doses of other vaccines not approved by Health Canada, or a single dose of the Janssen vaccine, would not be considered optimally protected, and that's why we're making an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine available to anyone in these situations."

Asymptomatic testing through the province will be rolled back in Phase 5, but Strang says many work sites throughout Nova Scotia will continue to regularly screen employees for COVID.

"People who are fully vaccinated and don't have any symptoms, there's actually a very low likelihood that they have COVID, especially given our current epidemiology, but we still do need to have some asymptomatic testing for surveillance purposes."

He said rapid tests are currently being used at around 300 workplaces throughout the province.

"Several thousand tests will be done on a regular basis ... that gives us a strong surveillance network, that if we start to pick up positives through that, we would then move in with additional testing," he explained.

The province also plans to only update case numbers on a weekly basis in Phase 5.


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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