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The Current Situation on Cape Breton Island

Last updated: January 21st, 2020

The global tourism industry is based on interactions with other people. 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.

As of January 21st, Nova Scotia’s Eastern Zone, which includes Cape Breton, has 4 active cases of Covid-19. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is actively monitoring the current outbreak and working with the World Health Organization along with other international partners.

Gathering Limits 

The following gathering restrictions are in place:

  • Households can have gatherings up to 10 people in their home including people who live there without social distancing (if your household is more than 10 people you can’t have any visitors); when you go into the community, your household can stay together without social distancing no matter how many people are in the household – when shopping, try to have 1 person from your household go into a store to help keep customers and staff safe.
  • Gathering limit for close social groups – you can form a close social group of up to 10 people without social distancing; you should try to keep this group consistent.
  • Businesses and organizations are not permitted to host in-person events and activities (indoors or outdoors), including:
    • arts and culture events
    • sports events (recreational, amateur, and professional)
    • festivals
    • special events
    • social events
    • wedding and funeral receptions
  • Indoor gathering limit with social distancing for faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies, and funeral services that are run by a recognized business or organization – 50% of the venue’s capacity up to 100 people maximum indoors (receptions and visitation are not permitted).
  • Outdoor gathering limit with social distancing for faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies, and funeral services that are run by a recognized business or organization – 150 people maximum outdoors (receptions and visitation are not permitted).
  • Gathering limit without social distancing for participants and officials in organized performing arts (excluding singing and playing brass or wind instruments) and sports – participants and officials in performing arts and sports (recreational, amateur, and professional) can gather in groups of up to 25 people without social distancing for practices and rehearsals; competitions, games, tournaments, performances, and spectators are not permitted.
  • Gathering limit for businesses and organizations that can’t maintain a physical distance of 2 meters (6 feet) because their physical space is too small – 10 customers or clients maximum without social distancing (keep as much social distancing as possible).

The Atlantic Bubble

Everyone who travels from outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador into Nova Scotia (including post-secondary students and if you’re travelling through Nova Scotia to another destination) must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in Nova Scotia, or for the duration of their stay if it’s less than 14 days. If they have already self-isolated in Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador, they may enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating again. You don’t need to self-isolate if you’re exempt from self-isolation.

When entering Nova Scotia from New Brunswick must complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form before arriving and self-isolate for 14 days upon the arrival. Nova Scotians returning from New Brunswick must also self-isolate for 14 days unless they are exempt from the order.

If you live in an Atlantic Canadian province, you need to show proof of residency when you enter Nova Scotia. You don’t need to complete a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form (self-declaration) before you travel to the province. When Atlantic Canadians arrive in Nova Scotia, every adult needs to provide a government-issued identification card, driver’s license, passport, or a utility bill or bank statement that shows their permanent home address. Atlantic Canadians also need to follow public health directives while they’re in Nova Scotia.

Testing is mandatory for rotational workers who work outside Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Workers must complete their full 14 days of modified self-isolation, even if they have a negative test result. They must get tested on day one or two and again on day six, seven, or eight.

Nova Scotians are being asked to avoid non-essential travel.

Travel Advisory

Canadian citizens and permanent residents are advised to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The best way to protect yourself, your family, and those most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 in our communities is to choose to stay in Canada. Contact your airline or tour operator to determine options for canceling or postponing your trip.

Many countries have put in place travel or border restrictions, such as movement restrictions and quarantines. Many airlines have reduced or suspended flights and many airports have closed.

These restrictions are changing quickly and may be imposed by countries with little warning. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted. Should you choose to take non-essential travel outside Canada, you may be forced to remain outside of Canada longer than expected.

Travellers Returning to Canada

All air passengers five years of age or older, including Canadians, will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours (96 hours for select destinations) prior to boarding their scheduled departure to Canada unless they are traveling from a destination temporarily exempted from this measure.

Before departure and in transit

You must prepare for your arrival in Canada:

  • Contact local health authorities, or the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test
  • get informed
  • plan for your quarantine
  • use ArriveCAN to enter your information before departure
  • wear a mask or face covering if travelling by air
  • only travel if you are feeling well

If you develop symptoms while in transit:

  • land/marine travellers: stop and seek medical attention
  • air passengers: tell your flight attendant or a border services officer immediately

Upon arrival in Canada

You must:

  • wear a mask or face covering
  • answer eligibility and health screening questions including quarantine plans
  • provide required information
  • complete additional health or quarantine plan assessments, if necessary

After entry

Your quarantine or isolation begins:

  • follow the instructions given to you
  • go directly to your place of quarantine or isolation
  • use ArriveCAN or call 1-833-641-0343 to check-in within 48 hours and to report symptoms daily

If symptoms develop or worsen, contact your local public health authority.

The Government of Canada and provincial/territorial officials may contact you during your quarantine.

Mask Policy in Nova Scotia 

Wearing a non-medical mask is required in most indoor 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, daycares, and day camps continue to follow their sector-specific plans.

Public places include:

  • retail businesses and shopping centers
  • personal services businesses like hair salons, barbershops, 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 (except while 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 recreational 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)
  • 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 and apartment buildings
  • 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

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 can include:

  • 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

How to wear a mask

When wearing a mask, you should:

  • check the mask for tears or holes
  • make sure the mask is clean and dry
  • wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after touching the mask
  • make sure your hair is away from your face
  • use the ear loops or ties to put the mask over your nose and mouth and secure to your head or ears with its ties or elastics
  • check that the mask fits snugly to the cheeks and fully covers your nose and mouth (there shouldn’t be any gaps)
  • avoid touching your face

Removing a mask

When removing a mask, you should:

  • wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • remove the mask by un-tying it or removing the loops from your ears
  • avoid touching the front of the mask

Storing, cleaning, and disposing of a mask

Store your mask in a clean place until you need to wear it again. When your reusable mask becomes damp or dirty, wash it with hot, soapy water and let it dry completely before wearing it again. You can include a cloth mask with other laundry.

Damaged and disposable masks should be put in a regular garbage bin that’s lined with a plastic bag. When emptying the bin, take care to not touch used masks or tissues with your hands.

Visitor Information Centres

The Visitors Information Centres in Cheticamp, Ingonish, and Port Hasting have officially closed for the 2020 tourism season. Covid-19 guidelines are still in effect and can be found here

Public Health Agency of Canada online resources:

For a listing of current up-to-date information on the Coronavirus from PHAC please check here

Please call 811 if you have any symptoms or questions and do not hesitate to call 911 if there is an emergency. Nova Scotia Health number’s can be found here

You can sign up to receive updates from PHAC here.

You can call PHAC directly at the following toll-free number: 1-844-280-5020

You can check your symptoms through PHAC’s online assessment tool here

Flights and Border Services

Air Canada temporarily suspended flights from the J.A. McCurdy Sydney Airport, starting January 11th, 2021. It is unknown when flights will resume at the Sydney Airport.  Westjet, however, indefinitely suspended operations to the Sydney Airport in the fall of 2020. At this point in time, there is no word on a possible return date or timeline for when the airline will re-enter the Atlantic Canadian market.

For now, the closest airport is Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Enfield, Nova Scotia.

Cruise Passengers

The Government of Canada is advising that you avoid all travel on cruise ships due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, until further notice. Transport Canada has announced that cruise ships with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 passengers are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until February 28, 2021.  Read the news release here.

Ferry Service

Marine Atlantic announced that the Argentia (NL)-North Sydney ferry service is in service. With travel restrictions in place in both Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, customers are advised to review the latest provincial restrictions and government websites prior to travel.

Travellers entering Newfoundland and Labrador must:

  • Be asymptomatic at the time of travel;
  • Have not been in close contact with a person with COVID-19;
  • Produce two pieces of government-issued ID (one including home address) to verify that they are a permanent resident of Newfoundland
  • Complete the required Province’s travel declaration form.
  • Agree to self-isolate for 14 days upon reaching their final destination

Travellers entering Nova Scotia must:

  • Be a permanent resident of one of the Atlantic Provinces;
  • Show proof of residency in one of the Atlantic Provinces;
  • Follow Nova Scotia’s public health directives.

For Atlantic Canadian residents, a self-declaration form is not required.

Food Services & Business Openings

The REFOCUS Travel Trade Program 

The REFOCUS Travel Trade Program offers one-on-one virtual coaching to help you lay the groundwork now so you can be ready to work with travel trade partners to attract visitors when the time is right. Work with an expert coach to identify opportunities, implement best business practices, and build partnerships with travel agents and tour operators to attract customers and recover sales.

The REFOCUS Program is open to tourism businesses that have participated in the Atlantic Canada Travel Trade Readiness Program or have some experience working with the travel trade. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 26 at 5 pm AST.

For more information regarding the REFOCUS Program please view the following link.

In Accordance to The Province 

Employers and employees need to work together to maintain a healthy workplace. Employers and employees need to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19, protect their customers, and keep each other safe. Employers need to make sure that employees are aware of employment rules and resources. Learn more about occupational health and safety guidance to help workplaces assess COVID-19 hazards and implement controls to reduce them.

You can find the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia/Restaurants Canada’s Covid-19 Rapid Recovery Guide here.


Travellers who start to feel unwell, are advised to 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.

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. The Nova Scotia Health Authority has established COVID-19 assessment centres across Nova Scotia. Including the following Cape Breton locations; Buchanan Memorial Community Health Centre, Grand Lake Road Fire Hall, Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital, Northside General Hospital, Sacred Heart Community Health Centre, and the Victoria County Memorial Hospital. 

Find out if you need a COVID-19 test

Complete a COVID-19 Self-assessment if in the past 48 hours you have had, or you are currently experiencing:

Fever (i.e. chills/sweats) OR Cough (new or worsening)


Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • feverish (chills, sweats)
  • new or worsening cough
  • sore throat
  • runny nose or nasal congestion
  • headache
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

You can call 811 for assessment if you’re unable to complete the COVID-19 Self-assessment online (or to speak with a nurse). Once you complete a COVID-19 Self-assessment, the assessment lets you know if you need to be tested and you can schedule the test online.

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.

Individuals 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.

Nova Scotians who have any other questions regarding Covid-19 can refer to the following site,


Government of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 Outbreak update:

Click Here

Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Outbreak update:

Click Here