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The Current Situation on Cape Breton Island

Last updated: June 1, 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 had 1,056 confirmed 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 ten people, the physical distancing of two metres or six feet is still required, except among members of the same household or family household bubble. 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:

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 until June 22 and will run from Monday to Friday.  The Sydney to Montreal flight will not operate this year but will resume in 2021. Flights from Sydney to Halifax will be suspended until July 1.  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.

Effective April 20, 2020, all air passengers are required to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel to and from Canadian airports. See the measures from Transport Canada.

Cruise Passengers

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 October 31, 2020.  Read the news release here.

Ferry Service

Marine Atlantic announced that the Argentia (NFLD)-North Sydney ferry service will be suspended for the 2020 summer tourism season. There will continue to be a minimum of two crossings per day on the Port aux Basques-North Sydney route, with no changes to the commercial and passenger rate structure for the remainder of the fiscal year. 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.

The CAT ferry (Maine-Nova Scotia) is scheduled to resume on July 15, with plans to operate four days a week.  Again, it is not yet clear if arriving passengers will be required to self-isolate upon arrival.  For up to date information please visit the Bay Ferries website.

Events and Conferences

Nova Scotia is limiting social gatherings to no more than 10 people to limit spread. Physical distancing of two metres or six feet is still required.

The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with an exception for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.  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
  • Cabot Trail Relay – May 23-24
  • Nova Scotia Hiking Summit – June 5-7
  • Canadian National Darts Championships – Adult – June 16-19
  • Psychology of Language Learning Conference – June 24-28
  • Granville Green Concert Series – July 5-August 9
  • Senior Little League Canadian Championships – July 16-25
  • Rotary Ribfest – July 17-19
  • Broad Cove Scottish Concert  – July 26
  • 44th National Youth Track and Field Championships – August 7-9
  • Celtic Colours International Festival (Live Concerts)- October 9-17 (Online Only for 2020)

Food Services

As of Thursday, March 19, restaurants are restricted to take-out and delivery orders only with no dine-in option. 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). The Province of Nova Scotia has now announced that these establishments will be able to reopen if they are ready and choose to do so on June 5, 2020.

If you are a Cape Breton Island resident, view a full list of take-out and home delivery options below.

Parks Canada

To reduce the number of visitors at Parks Canada places and to minimize risks to visitors and employees, Parks Canada has temporarily suspended visitor services and all motor vehicle access by visitors at all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas effective March 25, 2020 until further notice.  Highways and roadways which pass through Parks Canada places will remain open. Visitor facilities will be closed, including washrooms and day-use facilities.

Parks Canada will not be taking new reservations until at least June 1, 2020.   Sales of all passes have been temporarily suspended until further notice. For current pass holders, Parks Canada will automatically extend the end date of Discovery Passes for the full duration of the suspended period.

As of June 1, visitors will be able to access the following services and facilities at Parks Canada sites on Cape Breton Island:

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

  • Green spaces including Lighthouse trail, Old Town Trail, Royal Battery Trail and Kennelly’s day use area. (Kennington Cove beach will open later in June to ensure safe access and safety measures are in place.)

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

  • All look-offs
  • Trails including Franey, Fresh Water Lake, Clyburn, Broad Cove Mountain, Jack Pine, Jigging Cove, Mica Hill, Aspy, Lone Shieling, MacIntosh Brook, Benjie’s Lake, Bog, Corney Brook, Le Vieux Chemin du Cap-Rouge, Le Buttereau, Le Chemin de Buttereau, Salmon Pools and Acadian
  • Day use areas including North Bay Beach, Warren Lake Beach, Big Intervale, La Grande Falaise, La Rigouèche, and Neil’s Brook and Grande Anse picnic areas
  • All beaches
  • Fishing with permits (purchased in advance at participating locations)

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

  • Rooftop terrace, green spaces, and walkways

St. Peters Canal National Historic Site

  • Operation of locks and swing bridge, green spaces and walking trail

Marconi National Historic Site

  • Green spaces

Note that there will be limited washroom facilities available in select areas.

All camping facilities will remain closed until at least June 21, 2020, while Parks Canada assesses whether and how these services might resume. Group activities and public events are suspended until further notice. There is also a park-wide fire ban in Cape Breton Highlands National Park until further notice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visitor Information Centres

Provincial visitor information centres have been closed until further notice.


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.


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

Click Here

Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Outbreak update:

Click Here