HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia’s borders will officially open to Atlantic travel as of 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, although some restrictions will still apply to those travelling from New Brunswick.

The province also announced that as of June 30, travel will begin to open for residents from outside of Atlantic Canada, with the same restrictions based on vaccination status that are being put in place for New Brunswick.

As of 8 a.m. on June 23, travellers from Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador can enter Nova Scotia for any reason and will no longer have to self-isolate or complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form.

However, travellers from New Brunswick will have a modified quarantine period, depending on vaccination status. The province says those rules will also apply to the rest of the country on June 30.

"We are pleased that case numbers and vaccination coverage are allowing us to return to free travel within the Atlantic region," said Premier Iain Rankin in a news release. "There will be no requirements for people travelling from Prince Edward Island or from Newfoundland and Labrador. Because of New Brunswick’s approach to visitors from the rest of Canada, we need to maintain some protection when people enter Nova Scotia from that province. The rules we’re putting in place for New Brunswick will extend to travelers from outside Atlantic Canada on June 30."

The province says people travelling from New Brunswick, including returning Nova Scotians, can enter for any reason but will have self-isolation and testing requirements based on their vaccination status.

Those requirements include:

  • people who have had two doses of vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia must self-isolate until they receive a negative test result in Nova Scotia.
  • people who had one dose of vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia must self-isolate for at least seven days and cannot leave isolation until they get two negative tests results while in Nova Scotia; tests should be on day one or two and on day five or six.
  • people who have not had any vaccine and those who had a first dose within 14 days of arrival must isolate for 14 days; testing at the beginning and end of their isolation continues to be recommended.

This comes after New Brunswick announced last Wednesday that they were moving to Phase two of their reopening plan, which allows any Canadian travellers from outside the Atlantic region to enter the province without self-isolating, provided they have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It is the only Atlantic Canadian province to do so.

The province says most people coming from New Brunswick will be able to upload their proof of vaccination into their Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form. They will receive automatic approval but must be prepared to show their proof of vaccination to border officials.

"Even while they upload proof of vaccination, as part of their safer entry, they absolutely need to bring that proof of vaccination, whether it's on a, on a phone electronically or the piece of paper, because they may well be asked at the border to validate to show that proof of vaccination and if they do not have it, they risk being turned away," Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health said Tuesday afternoon during a news conference.

Public Health says the tests must be standard PCR lab tests, and cannot be rapid tests. For people arriving in Halifax by air, they can get their first test at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. All travellers can book tests online at testing sites around the province.

Travellers from the other Atlantic provinces are encouraged to get vaccinated and have regular COVID-19 tests but neither is required.

People who came from P.E.I. or Newfoundland and Labrador and are currently isolating in Nova Scotia can stop on June 23. This policy will remain in effect as long as these provinces have sufficient protective measures in place for travellers from the rest of Canada.

"Our self-isolation requirement has been instrumental in how we’ve managed the pandemic in Nova Scotia, and it continues to play an important role as we gradually reopen our borders,” said Strang. "Our testing strategy is among the most robust in the country and will continue to support our border policy while also supporting routine testing for all Nova Scotians."

The province says residents can continue to follow the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick travel protocol for work, school, child care and veterinary services, including people who work on rotational schedules. They do not need to complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in and do not have to self-isolate when they enter or return to Nova Scotia.

People travelling between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for child custody visits will continue to have a modified form of isolation, but the number of days will be based on their vaccination status and testing. The child custody protocol will be updated with more information.

Specialized workers and fish harvesters from New Brunswick have a choice in entering Nova Scotia – they can apply as New Brunswick residents or as specialized workers or fish harvesters.

In a statement from New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, he says in May, the province clearly announced its objectives to achieve the Path to Green and have worked hard to do their part and get vaccinated.

"As a result, we achieved the objectives required to move forward with the second phase of our reopening plan," said Higgs. "We feel confident in the steps we have taken to open our province up to Atlantic Canada and the rest of the country, so they are able to come and explore New Brunswick and reunite with their families and friends."

Blaine added the province will continue to follow advice from public health to keep New Brunswickers and other travellers safe.

Stacie Smith says she was supposed to travel to Nova Scotia on Wednesday by bus. Now, with only one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, she will be required to self-isolate for one week.

"I do understand where the premier and Dr. Strang are coming from of course, in terms of New Brunswick opening up to Canadians with just one dose outside of Atlantic, and their fears around that. It's a little bit nerve wracking for sure," said Smith. "But at the same time, give us a bit of a heads up. That way we can plan in advance for those who have already paid for Airbnb's or a bus ticket, like myself."

The Liberal opposition wonders if Nova Scotia's announcement is a sign of communication break-down between the two provinces.

"They should have discussed and made sure that we're on the same page and right now, we're maybe feeling that New Brunswickers are suffering a little bit more to be able to go in other provinces," said Jean-Claude D'Amours, the New Brunswick Liberal Health Critic.

During Tuesday's live COVID-19 news conference, Premier Iain Rankin said he did not give New Brunswick a heads up about the modified border restrictions, however, he says he did try.

"I tried to get ahold of the New Brunswick officials, last week we were hoping to learn more," explained Rankin. "Myself and other premiers in Atlantic, we were supposed to have a call last week and that never happened. But we had to modify our isolation requirements based on their decision to open up to the rest of Canada."