Nova Scotia's state of emergency has ended as it officially lifts most COVID-19 restrictions just over two years after the virus was first reported in the province.
As of Monday, gathering limits, physical distancing and mask requirements are gone in most settings.
Speaking at Friday's COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said the time is right to move forward with this.
"I know that some Nova Scotians, lots of you, are more than ready for the restrictions to lift, but others want to keep them in place for a little longer," he said. "This is an unsettling, uncertain time, and while there's still good reason to be cautious, there's also reason to have hope. The pandemic is coming to an end."
Strang still strongly recommends people take measures to reduce their risk of being infected or spreading COVID-19, including masking and distancing in indoor settings and crowded outdoor places.
He adds, though businesses and organizations across all sectors can resume full operations with no mandatory public health restrictions, they have the option to continue imposing measures if they choose.
"Don't be surprised if some locations decide they still want you to wear your mask," said Strang. "Any business or organization can make the policy decision for themselves, requiring people to be masked."
The province says special events including festivals, sports, performances, meetings, training and faith ceremonies can resume in full.
Originally the province planned to have students return from March Break to classrooms with no restrictions or required measures, but on Friday, Premier Tim Houston announced masking would remain mandatory in schools until mid-April after the Nova Scotia Pediatric Pandemic Advisory Group penned an open letter strongly recommending it.
That means masking for staff, students and visitors remains in place for a few more weeks during school hours and on school buses.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre will continue with mask requirements and visitor restrictions.
In long-term-care facilities, visitors need to wear a mask and be fully vaccinated, except for end-of-life visits.