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N.S. to lift most COVID-19 restrictions Monday, masking to remain in public schools


Most public health restrictions in Nova Scotia will be lifted on Monday, March 21, about two years after the first cases of COVID-19 were announced in the province and restrictions were put in place.

The lifted restrictions include gathering limits, physical distancing and mask requirements.  The state of emergency in Nova Scotia will end on Sunday, March 20 at 11:59 p.m.

However, some measures will remain in place for high-risk settings, such as healthcare and long-term care. 

Public health says masking will remain mandatory for a few more weeks in public schools.

"I know there will be mixed emotions among students and parents about the decision to keep masks on for a little longer," said N.S. Premier Tim Houston.

"But when we have new information, we reassess. This week, eight of our province's leading pediatric doctors spoke up. After speaking with Dr. (Robert) Strang and Dr. (Andrew) Lynk, and listening carefully, we felt this change made sense. For everyone else, you don't need restrictions to keep wearing your mask and doing what makes sense to protect yourself and others."

Effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 21:

  • There will be no gathering limits or capacity limits, but people should still keep their social groups small and consistent and make careful choices about the gatherings they attend.
  • Physical distancing will no longer be required between individuals and groups, although distancing is still recommended.
  • Masks will no longer be required, but wearing one in indoor public places or crowded outdoor places is strongly recommended.
  • Businesses and organizations across all sectors can resume full operations with no mandatory public health restrictions.
  • Special events including festivals, sports, performances, meetings, training and faith ceremonies can resume in full.

In public schools, staff and students will follow the updated guidance in the Back to School Plan, including the following:

  • Masking for staff, students, and visitors remains in place for a few more weeks during school hours and on school buses.
  • Visitors and spectators will need to wear masks in schools during school instructional hours for a few more weeks.
  • Staff and students are asked to follow core public health measures such as getting vaccinated if eligible, staying home if feeling unwell, following the COVID-19 daily checklist, washing and sanitizing hands frequently.
  • Music, band, arts and sports in schools can resume in full.
  • Tournaments, concerts and extracurricular activities are permitted.
  • Planning for graduation can proceed.

In long-term care facilities:

  •  Residents can have five visitors at a time if the facility can accommodate them.
  • Larger groups of visitors are permitted for special occasions like a resident's birthday or anniversary if the facility can accommodate them.
  • Visitors need to wear a mask and be fully vaccinated, except for end-of-life visits.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, residents can leave the facility for any reason, including overnight visits with family.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre will continue with mask requirements and visitor restrictions.

Dr. Strang says anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 needs to self-isolate, complete the online self-assessment and book an appointment for testing.

People who are at increased risk for severe disease, live in congregate settings or are integral to keeping our health system running are directed to book a PCR test.

Everyone else is directed to use rapid tests. People who test positive on a rapid test can book a PCR test to confirm the result.

Dr. Strang encourages people to keep a rapid test kit at home in case they need it.

People who test positive for COVID-19 will still be required to self-isolate for seven days from the date symptoms started, or from the date of a positive test if there are no symptoms.


Nova Scotia's weekly COVID-19 update shows continued virus activity and community spread in the province.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said data in this week's report was not unexpected.

"The pandemic is not over - and you can see that when you look at positive lab tests and hospitalizations in particular," said Strang in a news release Friday.

"We are just now starting to see the impact of phase one of our reopening plan. We are at a critical period with phase three just days away. It is more important than ever to do the things we know will keep ourselves and others safe. Get vaccinated. Get boosted if you're eligible. Wear your mask. Keep your social circles small and consistent. Stay home if you're sick, and test to protect the people you love."

Premier Tim Houston and Strang are scheduled to provide a live COVID-19 update at 3:15 p.m. Friday, which can be viewed here.



Nova Scotia is reporting 15 COVID-19-related deaths between March 9 and March 15.

Since the start of the Omicron wave, which began on Dec. 8, 2021, the median age of reported COVID-19 deaths is 79. Of those who died, 24 per cent were partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.

To date, the province has announced 232 deaths related to COVID-19.


Between March 9 and March 15, Nova Scotia saw 41 new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 and 23 discharges.

As of Thursday, there are 38 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 12 of whom are in intensive care.

Of those in hospital:

  • 23.7 per cent are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated
  • the median age is 66


There were 2,888 PCR positive lab results identified between March 9 and March 15.


As of Tuesday, 87.1 per cent of Nova Scotians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 5.1 per cent are partially vaccinated, and 7.8 per cent are unvaccinated.

As well, 63.2 per cent of Nova Scotians aged 18 and older have received a booster dose as of Tuesday.

All reported COVID-19 data can be found on the province's COVID-19 online dashboard. Top Stories

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