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The Current Situation on Cape Breton Island

Last updated: April 3, 2020.

The global tourism industry is based on interactions with other people and this is especially so on Cape Breton Island where a spirit of hospitality is in our DNA. We love to welcome visitors, but public safety is paramount at this time. As a result, we want to provide you with factual and up-to-date information about the situation on Cape Breton Island.

We now have 207 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is actively monitoring the current outbreak and working with the World Health Organization and other international partners.

TRAVEL ADVISORY

Canada is barring entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. No one who is displaying symptoms will be permitted to board a flight to Canada, and air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every passenger based on guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Canadians are to avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada. Anyone who chooses to travel outside Canada must self-isolate for 14 days on their return.

Nova Scotia has declared a state of emergency. Gatherings will be limited to five people. Police are authorized to enforce orders under the Health Protection Act related to self-isolation and social distancing, and can issue summary offence tickets for people who are not adhering to those orders. Anyone who has travelled outside the province will need to self-isolate for 14 days. There will be controls enforced at the borders of the province to restrict travel.

PHAC’s online resources can be found here:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html

PHAC can also be reached at 1-833-784-4397 and via email: [email protected].

The latest PHAC travel advisories can be found here.

Flights and Border Services

JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport does not have any international routes and passengers to the airport are primarily domestic. Any passengers who have travelled internationally are handled by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at partner airports before being granted access into Canada.

Air Canada has announced route cancellations on both domestic and international routes. At this time, the Sydney to Toronto direct flight will be suspended between March 23 and April 30.  Flights from Sydney to Halifax will be suspended between April 2 and April 30.  Onward connections from Halifax are continuing to be offered, but it is important for all air travellers to monitor activities of their individual air carrier for the latest information.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport is working with the PHAC and CBSA to facilitate and implement health-screening measures at the airport. You can find more information about measures underway at Halifax Stanfield here.

Public health inspectors will be onsite at the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport and Halifax International Airport.

Please contact your airline for the latest information.

  • Air Canada has issued a response to COVID-19 here. See info on route suspensions here.
  • WestJet has issued a response to COVID-19 here.

Cruise Passengers

Transport Canada has announced that cruise ships carrying more than 500 people (passengers and crew) will not be permitted to dock at Canadian ports from April 2 to July 1. Read the news release here.
This impacts 22 ship visits at the Port of Sydney and the full cruise schedule may be consulted here.

Events and Conferences

Nova Scotia is limiting social gatherings to no more than 5 people to limit spread. This includes weddings, conferences, festivals and events, and concerts. Please check directly with event organizers about the status of upcoming events.

The following events have been cancelled, paused or postponed to date:

  • Cape Breton Eagles hockey games
  • Wallace Bernard Memorial Native Youth Hockey Tournament, Membertou – March 12-15
  • Science Atlantic Environment Conference, Cape Breton University – March 13-15
  • Science Atlantic Aquaculture & Fisheries and Biology Conference, Cape Breton University – March 14-15
  • Vince Ryan Memorial Hockey Tournament – March 19-22
  • 8th Annual Cape Breton Classic, Basketball Cape Breton – April 17-19
  • Simon Chiasson Alumni Basketball Tournament – April 30-May 3
  • Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities Spring Conference – May 6-8
  • Canadian National Darts Championships – Youth – May 14-17
  • Canadian National Darts Championships – Adult – June 16-19
  • Psychology of Language Learning Conference – June 24-28

Food Services

As of Thursday, March 19, restaurants are restricted to take-out and delivery orders only. They can’t open for in-person dining. All drinking establishments, winery and distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms must close (private liquor stores can operate, and craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries can still sell their products from their storefronts). If you are a Cape Breton Island resident, please visit CapeBretonTakeout.ca for a full list of take-out and home delivery options.

Parks Canada 

Parks Canada has temporarily suspended all visitor services in all national parks and national historic sites. Visitor facilities will be closed temporarily, including washrooms and day use facilities.

To reduce the number of visitors at Parks Canada places and to minimize risks to visitors and employees, Parks Canada is temporarily suspending all motor vehicle access by visitors at all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas effective 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 until further notice. Highways and roadways which pass through Parks Canada places will remain open.  Full Parks Canada news release available here.

Visitor Information Centres

Provincial visitor information centres have been closed until further notice.

SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION

Travellers who start to feel unwell, should stay at home or self-isolate away from the public. Individuals who develop a fever, with a temperature of 38°C/100.4°F or higher, and/or cough should call 811 for assessment.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority has established COVID-19 assessment centres, including one at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney. If there is a need for in-person assessment, call 811 and they will refer you to a centre. Please do not go to a COVID-19 assessment centre without having been referred by 811.

For travellers who suspect they might have COVID-19 symptoms, they should provide health-care professionals with the following info via phone:

  • Symptoms;
  • Where they have been travelling, working or living; and
  • If they had close contact with a sick person, especially someone with a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

Note: Where language may be a barrier, please consult with your tour operator or accommodation providers, as they may be able to contact a health-care professional on your behalf.

People in Nova Scotia who have been directed to self-isolate can receive supporting health information from Nova Scotia Health Authority Public Health by contacting the nearest office.

If you self-isolate or feel unwell:

  • Avoid close contact with people with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems and older adults
  • Avoid having visitors to your home
  • Avoid situations like social gatherings, work, school, daycare, visiting other people who are in a healthcare facility or long-term care residence
  • Limit taking public transit, taxis and ride sharing
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water frequently for at least 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your arm or a tissue when coughing or sneezing; throw the tissue away.

EXTERNAL RESOURCES

Government of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 Outbreak update:
https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/

Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Outbreak update:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html