Last updated: July 20, 2020
It can be challenging to make decisions for your business with so much uncertainty around the situation with COVID-19. Tourism Nova Scotia is making every effort to ensure tourism operators have up-to-date information and access to resources that can help you with your business during this time.
For general information and updates about COVID-19 and tourism, visit https://tourismns.ca/coronavirus
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions for tourism businesses.
Travel and Border Restriction
The Government of Canada has temporarily restricted non-essential travel to the country to Canadians and permanent residents, with some exceptions. More information can be found here.
Please visit www.travel.gc.ca for more information. Be sure to check the site frequently, as conditions may change quickly.
People travelling from outside Atlantic Canada must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in Nova Scotia. If they have already self-isolate in another Atlantic Canadian province, they may enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating again
Every adult (age 18 or older) arriving from outside Atlantic Canada needs to complete a Self-Declaration Form before they travel to the province. You can complete and submit the Self-Declaration Form online here: https://travel-declaration.novascotia.ca/
When you arrive in Nova Scotia you need show that you submitted the form by providing the confirmation email you receive after submitting the form online. You also need to provide government-issued identification (like a Drivers Licence or Health Card) or a utility bill or bank statement that shows permanent home address.
You can print and complete the Self-Declaration Form if you're unable to submit online. A paper copy of the Self-Declaration Form is also available at entry points to Nova Scotia for people who don't have access to the form online.
People travelling from outside Atlantic Canada also need to follow public health directives while they're in Nova Scotia.
Beginning July 3, there is an “Atlantic Bubble,” which means residents of the four Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador) will be permitted to travel within the Atlantic Provinces without the requirement to self-isolate.
Atlantic Canadians visiting Nova Scotia without self-isolating must show proof that their permanent home is in Atlantic Canada. Every adult will need to show either a drivers' licence, government identification card, health card, or a utility bill or bank statement with a valid Atlantic Canadian address to provincial officials at airports, ferries or the land border when they arrive in the province. No self-declaration form is required to enter Nova Scotia.
People from Atlantic Canada must continue to follow public health directives while they're in Nova Scotia.
Yes, we encourage Nova Scotians to get out and explore the province!
As more businesses, organizations, services and public spaces reopen, Nova Scotians need to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep everyone safe. Nova Scotians are asked to make careful and informed decisions about the travel they engage in to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. You should consider the following measures when travelling within the province:
- follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines during all activitie
- consult with businesses in advance as to their health and safety protocols
- observe physical distancing of two metres or six feet when gathering in groups of up to 50
- keep your hands clean (if you have hand sanitizer, bring it with you)
- follow cough and sneeze etiquette
- consider wearing a non-medical mask
- stay home if you’re feeling sick
There has been no date set for the removal of the 14-day self-isolation requirement. As the situation continues to evolve, all end-dates for restrictions are considered fluid and could be lifted or extended at any time.
Yes, you can accept bookings from out of province travellers. We recommend sharing information with customers about travel restrictions and requirements to self-isolate to ensure they are fully aware of their obligations at the time of booking.
- Your guests may not be aware of this provincial directive, or how it impacts them. The check-in process is a good time to remind guests of the restrictions and protocols in place to protect themselves and others. It is recommended that staff do not question guests or make assumptions regarding their health.
- Consider creating a resource page that could be distributed to each room outlining the provincial guidelines as well as steps the hotel has taken to protect the health and safety of guests.
- If you are aware of someone not following the Public Health directive, have a conversation with them first – they may need help. However, if you still have concerns following a discussion with your guest and believe there may be a risk to public health, you may call a non-emergency number for the police that serve your community. Do not call 911.
- The Hotel Association of Canada has created hotel-specific resources including a FAQ for taking care of employees and guests, and guidelines for modified operations which may be of use to you: http://www.hotelassociation.ca/coronavirus/
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.
All international passenger flight arrivals have been redirected to 1 of 4 airports:
- Calgary International Airport
- Vancouver International Airport
- Toronto’s Pearson International Airport
- Montréal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
Several airlines have suspended or limited commercial flights. Please check with your airline directly regarding flight status if you have a scheduled flight.
Halifax Stanfield International Airport is working with the PHAC and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to facilitate and implement health-screening measures at the airport. Find more information about measures underway at Halifax Stanfield here.
Reopening the economy and provincial attractions
The Province of Nova Scotia has announced the next steps toward reopening the province. Effective June 5, most businesses ordered to close due to COVID-19 can re-open, provided they follow sector-specific health protocols. Eligible businesses include:
- Restaurants for dine-in, as well as takeout and delivery
- Bars, wineries, distilleries and taprooms
- 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
- Private campgrounds
All business and customers must continue to follow the public health measures around physical distancing and gathering limits. A full list of COVID-19 restriction updates can be found here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/restriction-updates/
To support businesses that are currently open, and those planning to reopen or expand their services, the province has developed an online resource at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia/
The site provides information to help businesses begin to develop plans and procedures to keep themselves, their staff and the public safe. For example, businesses and organizations can use the COVID-19 Prevention Plan Checklist to help create a healthy workplace.
If you’re in an industry that has an association, check with them first to find out if they have a plan for your industry. If not, there is information online (https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia/). Also, here are some things to consider, depending on the nature of your business:
- Support people with their personal measures (e.g. handwashing/sanitizer, tissues/waste baskets, public washrooms, shower before entering swimming pool)
- Support physical distancing with measures such as limiting the number of people, floor markings, telework, live streaming
- Use non-medical masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained
- Use PPE in the workplace as determined based on a risk assessment by an employer or individual
- Screen/assess for symptoms of COVID-19 (active or passive)
- Use physical barriers (e.g., plexiglass) when physical distancing cannot be maintained
- Increase cleaning (washrooms, common spaces, high-touch surfaces, shared equipment)
- Consider no touch options for bathrooms
- Increase ventilation such as keeping doors and windows open where possible
- Increase protective measures for vulnerable populations such as retail hours just for seniors
- Consider managing merchandise with fewer items available for display/touching. Frequently clean items that are on display
- Keep a record of clients’ appointments
- Replace items that customers would often shared with single-use items (e.g., menus)
- Avoid or manage lineups where possible
- Consider doing outdoor business where feasible (e.g., sidewalk sales)
- Keep the environment quiet so people don’t have to raise their voices to be heard
- Offer hand sanitizer, tissues, and waste baskets in highly visible places
The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS), in partnership with Tourism Nova Scotia, is offering a new Clean it Right training program that provides tourism businesses with clearly defined policies and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting their facilities.
The program is available online at no cost for the tourism industry for a limited time. Register at https://tourismstrong.ca/clean-it-right/https://tourismstrong.ca/clean-it-right/.
Cruise ships with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 persons are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020.
As of July 1, 2020, all other passenger vessels can resume operations while following Nova Scotia's public health protocols. Marine tour businesses should have a plan in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The plan does not have to be approved by government, but should be communicated to staff and customers. More information is available at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia/ .
When travelling by marine modes of transportation, travellers are encouraged to wear non-medical masks or face coverings whenever possible. See the measures from Transport Canada.
As of July 3, if a recognized business or organization is planning an event outdoors, 250 people can attend with physical distancing rules in place. For an indoor event, the limit is 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 200, again with physical distancing.
Gatherings not run by a recognized business or organization, for example a family event in the backyard, are limited to a maximum of 50 people with physical distancing.
See the Government of Canada’s Risk-informed Decision Making for Mass Gatherings guide to help you determine if you should cancel or post-pone your event.
Effective June 5, private campgrounds can open for all types of campers. They must ensure public health protocols are followed, including social distancing and adequate distance between campsites.
Provincial campgrounds are opened at a reduced capacity to ensure adequate distance between campsites. Due to self-isolation requirements for visitors, provincial campgrounds will only be open to Nova Scotians and visitors from Atlantic Canada in 2020. Reservations must be made prior to arrival, and only registered campers will be permitted to enter the campgrounds.
Further information is available on the Nova Scotia Provincial Parks website: https://parks.novascotia.ca/
Parks Canada is offering limited access and services, including camping, at many National Parks and Historic Sites while maintaining physical distancing measures. Please visit their website for more information.
Sportfishing is now open. You can fish from shore or a boat. However, you need to maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres or 6 feet from others, when you’re on shore and at the boat launch. If you’re fishing from a boat, you can only be with people who live in the same house as you do. No derbies or festival events are allowed at this time. People from outside Nova Scotia cannot sport fish here or tow boats to sport fish here at this time.
Archery, equestrianism, golf, surfing, paddling, sailing/boating and tennis are permitted to resume at outdoor facilities provided social distancing, environmental cleaning and participant hygiene can be maintained.
Provincial and municipal parks, trails, and beaches are open. Gathering limits and social distancing guidelines must be followed.
Non-Medical Mask Policies in Nova Scotia
Starting at 12:01 a.m. on July 31, non-medical masks are mandatory in most indoor public places.
Effective July 31, non-medical masks will be mandatory in the following indoor public places:
- retail businesses
- shopping centres
- personal services businesses such as a hair and nail salons, spas, body art facilities, except during services that require removing a mask
- restaurants and bars, except while you 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 during 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, student union building or common areas of a faculty building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences
- train or bus stations, ferry terminals, and airports
Businesses, workplaces, and other owners with public places can develop their own policies and procedures. They can choose to refuse entry or service to people who are not following the rules.
You can remove your mask to eat and drink. At any other time in a restaurant, bar or other indoor public place where food is served, you must wear a mask – for example, waiting to be seated, going to the bathroom, and getting ready to leave.
Support for Tourism Businesses
- Federal support for employers and employees as part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, includes:
- Avoiding layoffs and rehiring employees
- Reduced and deferred payment
- Access to credit
- Support for self-employed individuals
- Supporting financial stability
- Commercial Rent Relief
- Businesses and organizations across Atlantic Canada unable to access existing federal relief measures can now apply for funding through the Regional Recovery and Relief Fund. Businesses in sectors that are critical to the resilience and survival of Atlantic Canada’s economy, such as advanced manufacturing, ocean industries, clean growth technology, and tourism, may be given priority.
- Rent Deferral for Tourism Operators. To help mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on Canada’s tourism industry, Parks Canada will work with tourism operators in national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas to defer payments on commercial leases and licences of occupation without interest until September 1, 2020.
- The Government of Canada has announced that all Regional Development Agencies, including ACOA, will apply a deferral of three months on all payments due to the government, as of April 1, 2020.
- If you are a tourism operator or a small- or medium-sized business or organization and have received ACOA funding and COVID-19 is affecting your operations, you are encouraged to contact your local ACOA office. Your local ACOA office can review your situation and provide guidance.
- You may be eligible to receive additional funding and/or flexible arrangements.
- Further support will be determined on a case-by-case basis as the situation evolves.
- If you are a tourism operator or a small- or medium-sized business or organization impacted by the sudden shifts in the economy and need pressing assistance, ACOA could assist you with:
- Access to federal funding to help you stay in business.
- Advice and pathfinding services to other federal programs and services available.
- More information can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/atlantic-canada-opportunities/campaigns/covid19.html
- ACOA is also administering the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.
- Access Credit and Maintain Cashflow: The provincial government announced a $161 million package for small and medium-sized businesses to help them access credit and maintain cash flow. This first wave of supports includes:
- Payment deferrals until June 30 on all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
- Fees, including business renewal fees and workers compensation premiums, will be deferred.
- Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through 15 provincial Credit Unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30.
- Other changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program including enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000. For new loans, the first $100,000 will be fully guaranteed by the province.
- Covid-19 Small Business Credit and Support Program: Starting April 29, the Province of Nova Scotia will offer a temporary stream for access to credit, cash grants, and support delivered through participating credit unions.
- To be eligible, small businesses must have a payroll less than $20,000 in the previous fiscal year and have experienced a decline in revenue from sales of at least 15 per cent in March or at least 30 per cent in April, May or June.
- Maximum loan amount is $25,000. Upon approval, businesses will receive a grant up to $1,500 as well as a COVID-19 Business Continuity Voucher of up to $1,500 to help hire consultants for advice and support.
- This new stream will be available until June 30. See https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
- Access to Training and Business Advice: The Province of Nova Scotia is partnering with Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) to offer education, training and guidance for small businesses. Through a central online hub, the program will connect businesses across the province with support programs available through post-secondary institutions, government, and other regional organizations. To receive follow up from an NSCC regional team member businesses should complete a short intake form at https://www.nscc.ca/sites/covid19-business-support/
- Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program: The provincial government is encouraging landlords to defer payment of commercial leases for three months and spread those payments over the remainder of the lease agreement. Landlords who enter into a rental deferral agreement with their eligible tenants will be able to claim losses of rental income.
- Program guidelines can be found here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#support
- Rental deferral agreements must be in place by Wednesday, April 1 and you must register your intent with the Department of Business by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3, by emailing NSRentDeferral@novascotia.ca
- By April 30, 2020, the landlord must submit an application to the Department of Business which will include an application form and a copy of the deferral agreement. Each landlord will be contacted directly by the Department.
- COVID 19 Worker Emergency Bridge - The Worker Emergency Bridge will help people who are no longer working and need help as soon as possible. Nova Scotians laid off or out of work on or after March 16, 2020 due to Covid-19, and ineligible for Employment Insurance, are eligible for a one-time, $1,000 payment to help them meet their basic needs.
- For more information, visit ttps://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#support
- Small Business COVID 19 Impact Grant - Eligible small business can receive a one-time grant of up to 15 per cent of their revenue from sales for either February 2020 or April 2019, at the option of the business owner, to a maximum of $5,000 per enterprise. The deadline to apply is April 25, 2020.
- For more information, visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#support
- Employer Assessment Tool: The provincial government has created an on-line tool to quickly help employers determine if they may remain open, in compliance with current workplace safety requirements.
- You can find the assessment tool here: https://covid19-employer-assessment.novascotia.ca/en
- Changes to Registry Of Joint Stock: All Registry of Joint Stock Company (RJSC) renewals due in March, April and May 2020 have been extended to June 30, 2020.
- Name reservations, sole proprietorship and partnership registrations and annual renewals can be completed online at https://accesstobusiness.snsmr.gov.ns.ca/a2b_web/portal/home.jsf
- Nova Scotia Tender Notices: Are you a business that can supply products and service in support of Nova Scotia’s response to COVID-19? A procurement portal has been developed and includes a list of needed products and services.
- For more information, visit https://procurement.novascotia.ca/ns-tenders.aspx
- Update to The Tenancy and Distress for Rent Act. Effective March 31, 2020 at 6 a.m., landlords are not permitted to change locks or seize property of businesses who cannot pay rent, if the business closed directly because of COVID public health orders.
- Business Navigators: The Province of Nova Scotia has a business navigator service that will continue to be available as a resource to businesses.
- Contact a navigator to discuss your situation: https://novascotia.ca/regulatoryopportunity/business-navigators.asp
- Small businesses ordered to cease or substantially curtail operations due to certain COVID-19 Orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (issued: March 24th, 2020) as identified below can access support through the new Small Business COVID-19 Impact Grant.
- Restaurants/eating establishments
- Drinking establishments
- Personal services (such as hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons, body art establishments)
- Fitness establishments (such as gyms, yoga and Pilates studios, rock climbing establishments)
- Non-regulated health professionals (such as massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, naturopaths)
- Live, performing arts for audiences (such as live theatre, musical performances)
- Businesses that pay the small business tax rate on their income taxes (T2 for incorporated businesses); or you are a sole proprietorship or partnership.
- Those that pay the Small Business Corporate Tax Rate show annual taxable capital (liabilities section of balance sheet) of not more than $15 M
- Anticipated loss of revenue of 30% or more per enterprise
- Established before March 15, 2020 (if you are a new business within 15 days of achieving your first revenue from sales on this date, we may still be able to help, please apply)
- Businesses must be willing to be audited in future
- The following businesses are NOT eligible:
- Registered childcare (named in order)
- Dentists (named in order)
- Golf courses (named in order)
- Retail (not named in order)
- Other financial assistance may be available for businesses that do not qualify for this grant
The Small Business COVID-19 Grant program was designed specifically for those businesses who were in operation in March but ordered to close or directed to curtail operations due to the Public Health Order published in March 2020. It is a one-time payment for the month of April aimed to address loss of revenues as a result of the order. The federal and provincial governments are considering other supports for a wider range of small businesses, including tourism businesses.
- Our business development team is available to help you navigate newly announced and already existing programs and resources to support you in moving through and beyond this situation.
- We also have a resource page on our corporate website (www.tourismns.ca/coronavirus) that links to current information and resources. This web page is updated daily as new information becomes available.
- We have extended the deadline for payment of fees related to the Doers & Dreamers Guide until September 30, 2020.
- Our research and sector development teams are currently reaching out directly to a variety of operators to learn more about the impacts and better inform TNS’s response strategy and to help guide discussions with government and other partners about ways to support businesses and organizations through this situation.
- The Tourism Nova Scotia Webinar Series, offers weekly webinars to provide practical information you can use to steer your business through COVID-19 and then rebuild and recover following the pandemic.
- Customers are more comfortable than ever researching and making purchases online following COVID-19 and it is critical for tourism businesses to have a strong online presence. The Tourism Digital Assistance Program is helping eligible tourism businesses improve their online marketing.
- We've launched the RADIATE Tourism Program to help tourism businesses and organizations create and market travel packages to appeal to local and Maritime travellers in 2020-21.
- The government of Nova Scotia and the federal government are working to put policies, programs and initiatives in place that will assist small businesses immediately and through the next several months.
- Businesses in sectors that are critical to the resilience and survival of Atlantic Canada’s economy, such as advanced manufacturing, ocean industries, clean growth technology, and tourism, may be given priority for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.
- Parks Canada has announced a new program for tourism operators in national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas to defer payments on commercial leases and licences of occupation without interest until September 1, 2020.
Impact on TNS Operations and Marketing Activities
- Public health and safety is our top concern. As a result, the year-round visitor information centres at Amherst and Halifax Stanfield International Airport are closed until further notice.
- The tourism contact centre, which handles calls from travellers seeking trip planning information, is open and has resumed travel counselling services.
- As an additional precaution, Tourism Nova Scotia corporate offices are closed and staff are working from home.
- We are in close communication with Destination Canada, our in-market representatives, and industry partners to ensure a coordinated response to tourism impacts.
- We are participating in multiple working groups to coordinate communication and mitigation efforts.
- We are engaged in active contingency planning from the perspective of operations, marketing and industry.
- The Tourism Nova Scotia Webinar Series, offers weekly webinars to provide practical information you can use to steer your business through COVID-19 and then rebuild and recover following the pandemic.
- Our research team has developed scenarios for what the post-pandemic recovery could look like in Nova Scotia. Based on this research, we’ve developed a phased marketing plan to help encourage people to explore Nova Scotia as travel markets begin to reopen. The COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Research and Marketing Approach can be found here.
- We have created resource webpages for the tourism industry (www.tourismns.com/coronavirus) and for travellers (www.novascotia.com/coronavirus). The pages contain current information, recommendations, and other resources related to COVID-19. These pages are updated on a continuous basis and important updates are shared through our inTouch newsletter.
- At this time, all marketing campaigns in our key markets of Ontario, Quebec, Northeastern US, UK, Germany and China are on hold until further notice.
- The most important goal for tourism marketing organizations at this time is to maximize the impact of limited tourism marketing budgets to ensure the strongest recovery possible.
- Much of our marketing in international markets like the US, Germany, UK, and China is done in partnership with Destination Canada, the four Atlantic provinces through the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism, tour operators, Halifax Stanfield International Airport and other partners.
- We will work collaboratively with all of our partners and in-market representatives to determine next steps.
- About one-third of tourism revenues are generated by Nova Scotians travelling in NS.
- TNS has launched a marketing campaign that aims to inspire pride in all the incredible things Nova Scotia has to offer as a vacation destination.
- We see great potential for this campaign to lift the spirits of Nova Scotians and encourage more “stay-cations”.
- The COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Research and Marketing Approach can be found here.
- Information about our 2020 Marketing Campaign is available at https://www.tourismns.ca/2020marketingcampaign