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The Current Situation on Cape Breton Island

Last updated: September 18th, 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.

To date, Nova Scotia has 85,288 negative test results, 1,086 positive COVID-19 cases, 65 deaths and 1 active COVID-19 case. 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.

The Atlantic Bubble

As of July 6th, travel between the Atlantic Provinces, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, is permitted without the requirement to self-isolate. If you live in an Atlantic province you will need to show proof of residency when entering Nova Scotia. You will not be required to fill out a self-declaration form when entering Nova Scotia if you show your Atlantic Canadian ID.  If you intend on travelling through Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island or New Brunswick you will be required to fill out a self-declaration form once you reach the border. 

Please note if you are from outside the “Atlantic Bubble” and travelling to a destination within Atlantic Canada you will be required to self-isolate or quarantine for 14 days, depending on your symptoms. If you are 18+ and from a province outside the bubble you will be required to fill out a Nova Scotia Safe Check-In Form upon entry into Nova Scotia, unless you are exempt from self-isolation.

Once you are in the province a Government of Nova Scotia official will contact you each day during your self-isolation or quarantine period. If you do not comply you can be fined up to $1,000 for the first offence and up to $10,000 and 1 year imprisonment if guilty of a second offence.

Travel Advisory

Any passenger who displays symptoms will not 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. 

The Federal Government advises that you avoid all travel outside of Canada. If you have to travel by plane within Canada you will be subject to a health check prior to boarding. You will not be permitted to board if you show symptoms, have been refused to board within the last 14 days, or are subject to a local or provincial health order. 

As of July 21, 2020, the restriction on all discretionary travel at the Canada-U.S. border that was initially implemented on March 21, 2020, was extended until August 21, 2020. This applies to all foreign nationals with some exceptions for immediate family members (for more information contact the Border Agency Service). 

For more information on travel restrictions please contact the Government of Canada PHAC information sheet on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel restrictions, exemptions and advice. 

Travellers Returning to Canada

The Government of Canada has put in place emergency orders under the Quarantine Act. It applies to all travellers arriving in Canada. Its purpose is to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Failure to comply with this order is an offence under the Quarantine Act.

Travellers by land and air must fill out a Traveller Contact Information Form, available through the ArriveCan mobile app, an accessible web-based form, or a paper form upon driving checkpoints and airport security.  

It is mandatory for travellers with symptoms to self-isolate for 14 days and those with no symptoms to quarantine for 14 days. If you travel home and start showing symptoms please remain in quarantine, call 811 and follow their advice. 

It is important to monitor the news after your arrival home for any information regarding exposure to a traveller with symptoms.  You may also check this link for exposure information regarding flights, check points, cruise lines and trains.

Mask Policy in Nova Scotia 

On Sunday, September 6th the State of Emergencythat was declared for the Province of Nova Scotia was renewed for the thirteenth consecutive time. The State of Emergency remains in effect until 12:00 pm (noon) on Sunday, September 20th, 2020. 

Starting July 31st, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Strang, and Premier, Stephen McNeil, announced that wearing non-medical masks will become mandatory in public places. The Premier stated, “wearing a non-medical mask in most indoor public places is a key part of how we protect each other and support our local businesses so they can stay open for the long run”.  

Children under the age of two are exempt from wearing masks in public, as are children between the ages of two and four when guardians cannot get them to wear a mask. Those with valid medical reasons will be the only other group exempt. 

Indoor public places include:

  • retail businesses
  • shopping centres
  • personal services businesses such as hair and nail salons, spas, body art facilities, except during services that require removing a mask
  • restaurants and bars, except while people are eating or drinking
  • places of worship or faith gatherings
  • places for cultural or entertainment services or activities such as movie theatres, concerts and other performances
  • places for sports and recreational activities such as a gym, pool or indoor tennis facility, except while doing an activity where a mask cannot be worn
  • places for events such as conferences and receptions 
  • municipal or provincial government locations offering services to the public
  • common areas of tourist accommodations such as lobbies, elevators and hallways
  • common areas of office buildings such as lobbies, elevators and hallways, but not private offices
  • public areas of a university or college campus, such as library or student union building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences
  • Transit, such as: taxi, train, bus and bus stations, ferries and ferry terminals, airports and airplanes

Visitor Information Centres

The Visitors Information Centres in Cheticamp, Ingonish and Port Hasting have officially opened for the 2020 tourism season. Covid-19 guidelines are in place and visible for visitors to see before entering the site.

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

J.A. 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. 

If you’re flying in/out of J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport, you are required to wear a face mask in the terminal at all times. Please abide by social distancing recommendations to maintain a 2 meter (6 feet) distance between yourself and others in all areas of the terminal building.

Air Canada has announced route cancellations on both domestic and international routes.  Service to Toronto operates 5 days per week and service to Halifax operates twice a week, with flights to/from Halifax on Monday and Friday. The Sydney to Montreal flight will not operate this year but will resume in 2021.  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.

Westjet has announced that service to Halifax will operate 2 days per week – flights to/from Halifax are scheduled on Monday and Friday.

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

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 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.

Travellers who wish to board the Marine Atlantic Ferries will be asked to comply with the Provincial Travel Requirements put forth by either the Newfoundland and Labrador Government of the Nova Scotia Government depending on which province they plan on entering. For more information about these travel requirements please follow this link

The CAT (Maine-Nova Scotia) high-speed ferry services will not operate during the 2020 season. They ensure the service will be back in time for the 2021 season. For further information please click the following link

Food Services & Business Openings

On June 5th, 2020, the Government of Nova Scotia announced that most businesses that were required to close under the public health order can reopen. Businesses must follow protocols in the plan that is tailored to their sector. This includes following public health protocols to ensure physical distancing, increased cleaning and other protective measures for staff and customers.

The following can open if they are ready and choose to do so:

  • restaurants for dine-in, as well as takeout and delivery
  • bars, wineries, distilleries and taprooms
  • lounges are not permitted to reopen at this time 
  • personal services, such as hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons and body art establishments
  • fitness facilities, such as gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities 
  • veterinarians

Other health providers can also reopen on June 5, provided they follow protocols in their colleges’ and associations’ plans, as approved by public health. These include:

  • dentistry and other self-regulated health professions such as optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy
  • unregulated health professions such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy

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


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. 

For travellers who suspect they might have COVID-19 symptoms, they should provide 811  health-care professionals with the following information via phone:

  • Symptoms include but are not limited to; fever (i.e. chills or sweats), cough or worsening or a previous cough, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath, muscle aches, loss of sense of smell or taste, red, purple or blueish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers without clear cause, etc. 
  • 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.

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