Health and Safety Resources

Health Protection Act Order

The Province of Nova Scotia has released the Order By the Medical Officer of Health Under Section 32 of the Health Protection Act. This Order details the specific requirements for residents and businesses to follow during the current COVID-19 Pandemic.

Several updates have been made to this order since first coming into effect in July of 2020, and remains in effect currently. This order includes several details and requirements around the need for social distancing, how many individuals can be in immediate proximity to each other, and how this affects businesses, events, and personal gatherings.




When worn properly, non-medical masks can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. Your mask can be a commercial non-medical mask or a homemade mask that covers your nose and mouth. A face shield can’t be worn instead of a non-medical mask (face shields protect your eyes, but don’t protect other people).

Using a mask alone isn’t enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You should also make sure to keep your hands clean, follow cough and sneeze etiquette and social distancing guidelines and stay home if you’re feeling sick.

When to wear a mask

Public places

Wearing a non-medical mask is required in most indoor public places and some outdoor public places. Children under 2 are exempt, as well as children 2 to 4 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. Schools, day cares and day camps continue to follow their sector-specific plans.

Public places include:

  • licensed indoor childcare settings, including children 2 or older, staff and visitors
  • retail businesses and shopping centres
  • personal services businesses like hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons and body art establishments (except during services that require removing a mask)
  • restaurants and liquor licensed (drinking) establishments like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms, including the kitchen and preparatory space and outdoor serviced seating areas like patios (except for holes on the golf course that are licensed and when you’re eating or drinking)
  • places of worship and faith gatherings
  • places for cultural or entertainment activities and services (like movie theatres, theatre performances, dance recitals, festivals and concerts)
  • places for sports and fitness, recreational or leisure activities, including fitness establishments like pools, gyms, yoga studios, climbing facilities and indoor tennis facilities (except during an activity where a mask can’t be worn)
  • places for events (like conventions, conferences and receptions)
  • outdoors when a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) can’t be consistently maintained, including playgrounds and parks
  • organized outdoor gatherings (like public markets and special events) when a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) can’t be consistently maintained
  • municipal and provincial government locations that offer services to the public
  • common areas of tourist accommodations (like lobbies, elevators and hallways)
  • common areas of office buildings (like reception areas, elevators and hallways), excluding private offices
  • common areas and public spaces on university and college campuses (like the library and student union building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences)
  • train stations, bus stations, ferry terminals and airports
  • common areas of multi-unit residential buildings (like apartment buildings and condos)
  • Casino Nova Scotia (Halifax and Sydney) and video lottery terminals (VLTs), except when you’re eating or drinking
  • public schools (pre-primary to grade 12)

A business or government official can ask you to remove your mask for identification purposes (you can remove it momentarily for this reason).

Public transportation

All passengers and drivers on public transportation are required to wear non-medical masks. Children under 2 are exempt, as well as children 2 to 4 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.

Public transportation includes:

  • municipally operated public transit (buses and ferries)
  • school buses and vehicles operated by private schools
  • community transit vehicles (like community operated buses)
  • commercial vehicles like motor coaches, shuttle vans and vehicles providing charters and tours
  • taxis
  • vehicles serving residents and staff at long-term care facilities

Businesses and workplaces

All businesses, organizations and workplaces need to follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plans, including any additional mask requirements for areas that are not accessed by the public. They can choose to refuse entry or service to people who are not wearing a non-medical mask, unless they’re exempt from wearing a mask.

Wearing a non-medical mask is required at private indoor workplaces (like offices or warehouses) in all common areas, places where there’s interaction with the public, areas with poor ventilation and areas where people can’t maintain a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.

Businesses, organizations and workplaces where masks are required under the Health Protection Act Order are encouraged to post a Face Mask Required Sign (PDF) to let customers and clients know that masks are mandatory.

Exemptions to wearing a mask

  • children under the age of 2
  • children 2 to 4 when their caregiver can’t get them to wear a mask
  • anyone with a valid medical reason for not wearing a mask
  • anyone who is reasonably accommodated by not wearing a mask under the Human Rights Act (PDF)
  • anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance
  • anyone who is eating or drinking in a restaurant, liquor licensed (drinking) establishment, food court at a shopping centre or food store, movie theatre or in any other location where food or beverages are being served
  • people in a courtroom, jury room or secured area in a courthouse, or room where a legislative administrative tribunal is meeting
  • performer or officiant who is performing activities that require vocalization (like talking or singing) at a faith gathering, wedding, funeral, social event, or arts and culture event

You can remove your mask momentarily for identification purposes.

Medical reasons for not wearing a mask

Wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and helps protect people who are around you. There are very few medical reasons not to wear a mask. Wearing a mask doesn’t worsen chronic lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

You should wear a non-medical mask unless you have a medical reason for not wearing a mask (like people with cognitive or developmental disabilities who can’t wear a mask). Children under the age of 2 shouldn’t wear a mask.

If you have chronic breathing problems or a mental health condition that creates anxiety, you may be able to work on ways to overcome the anxiety (like wearing a mask for short periods of time at home). You can try different types of masks and choose one you’re comfortable with. You can also talk to a doctor or pharmacist about it.


You may need to help your child get used to wearing a mask (like wearing a mask for short periods of time at home, putting a mask on a stuffed animal and showing your child how they look in their mask).



Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety: COVID-19 Tips and Resources

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety has developed a variety of free tip sheets as guidance while operating during a pandemic, including the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Each document offers health and safety tips and good practices, for both employers and workers, specific to each industry or sector. Organizations and businesses can adopt this guidance to protect their workers and prevent the spread of infections. The tip sheets cover a range of occupations and industries from construction and trucking to healthcare and daycares.


Workplace COVID-19 Prevention Plan

The Government of Nova Scotia has created a workplace prevention plan to help guide businesses in preparing their own plan.


Social Distancing Best Practices

The Government of Nova Scotia has created a best practices poster for social distancing and guidelines to live by in order to keep safe and healthy while social distancing.

The poster is available in English, French, Mi’kmaw, Arabic, and Chinese.


Mental Health Commission of Canada: How am I doing?

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has developed a resource poster for individuals to assess how they are doing, and some tips on how to cope.


NS Labour Standards Code

The NS Labour Standards Code provides job protection for employees who are unable to perform work due to an emergency as defined under the Code. Emergency includes a direction or order of a medical officer − or a public health emergency declared − under the Health Protection Act.  Emergency leave extends to individuals who need to care for a family member affected by an order or direction under that Act. Those who have specific questions about pay, job security and layoffs should contact the department’s Labour Standards Division.


Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant a shift in the way many of us work and will continue to transform how we focus on workplace safety over the months ahead. The Workers’ Compensation Board has a number of materials available online to help employers communicate work safety during the COVID pandemic.


Safe Work Practices in the Nova Scotia Construction Industry

Construction Safety Nova Scotia has developed a tool kit is to provide recommendations and resources to the construction industry for operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with Nova Scotia’s Health Protection Act.


Build Right Nova Scotia Prevention measures Guide

Build Right Nova Scotia has developed a COVID-19 Safety and Prevention Measures Guide to help businesses and employees ensure safe work procedures are developed and followed in relation to working during the pandemic.


Rapid Response Platform

As Canada’s industries return to work, there is an increased demand for PPE. The Rapid Response Platform automatically matches supply with demand, simplifying supplier discovery during the procurement process.


Public Health Agency of Canada Toolkit

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has compiled a thorough Frequently Asked Questions list around understanding Mortgage Payment Deferral for Canadian homeowners. Homeowners facing financial stress may be eligible for a mortgage payment deferral up to 6 months to help ease the financial burden and application can be made at any time during this outbreak.


Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia has also developed a Safety and Prevention Measures document to guide businesses in protecting workers, their families, and the community from possible infection and illness.


Hospitality Reopening Guidance

P&G Professional developed a document to provide cleaning and disinfecting information, guidelines, and hygienic practices that may be necessary to reopen a hospitality establishment during COVID-19.


Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a global COVID-19 Dashboard, which shares the progression of the virus globally. They have also developed technical guidance and advice for how to live with and manage the novel Coronavirus.

WHO COVID-19 Dashboard
Technical Guidance for COVID-19