Nova Scotia

Weddings, funerals, large-scale events in Nova Scotia adjust to Phase 5

Now that Nova Scotia has entered Phase 5 of its COVID-19 reopening plan, there are no limits to the number of people who can attend funerals, weddings or special events hosted by a business or organization.

Public health restrictions have eased but mask-wearing continues

A limited number of mourners are shown at a funeral at St. Ninian Cathedral in Antigonish. (C.L. Curry Funeral Services)

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, many funeral services throughout Nova Scotia started streaming online so families and friends could watch without breaking public health protocols around gathering limits.

At one point, indoor services were reduced to just five people in addition to the person conducting the ceremony.

"It has been very difficult, a very unique situation," said Patrick Curry, president of the Funeral Association of Nova Scotia.

Curry, who is also a funeral director at C.L. Curry Funeral Services in Antigonish, said streaming and recording of services allowed people to follow along, but that has its limitations.

"It's not the same as attending in person for the person watching the funeral, and it's not the same for the family involved. That sense of community is not the same," Curry said.

Patrick Curry is president of the Funeral Service Association of Nova Scotia. He also runs a funeral home in Antigonish, N.S. (Submitted by Patrick Curry)

Gathering limits have been gradually increasing as Nova Scotia works through its reopening plan. As of Monday, there are no limits for events hosted by businesses and organizations, including funerals.

Curry said he expects the number of mourners attending funeral services in person will increase as people get used to being around crowds again. It's something he believes will be a huge comfort to those who are grieving.

"When you have people around you, that energy is right there and that solace is right there with you and you can feel it, and I think people crave it and I think people need it," he said. "I'm personally very much looking forward to getting back to those days."

While wedding season typically winds down this time of year, some planners are seeing a race to book receptions as a result of gathering limits being changed.

Tina Lesyk, CEO and lead planner for Pineapple Eventworks in Halifax, said her phone started to ring during last week's news conference held by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang and Premier Tim Houston. 

Tina Lesyk, second from left, expects more last-minute wedding bookings as well as Christmas parties now that gathering limits have changed. (BruceJollimorePhotography2019)

"I actually received a call while the press conference was still live from a panicked bride who needed to hire a recognized business in order for her to be able to host the wedding she had planned," said Lesyk, adding she expects bookings to start rolling in for Christmas parties.

Halifax Convention Centre gears up for return of big events

Meanwhile, the Halifax Convention Centre is preparing to host its biggest event since March 2020.

About 1,000 people are due to attend the Canadian Defence and Aerospace Exhibition Atlantic over the next few days.

It brings together companies from across the Maritimes with a few from Quebec and Ontario as well as a small number from the U.S. and Europe.

The event is a networking opportunity for the aerospace, defence and security industries.

"It's the first really large-scale event with international participation with a large gathering of people done safely, so that we can see this part of the industry returning," said Colin Stephenson, executive director for the exhibition.

'People are very excited'

All attendees must be masked in common areas and must provide proof of full vaccination, Stephenson said.

"People are very excited to see one another again," he said. "The marketing in this industry is very much done face to face and the event that we hold is very much a business-to-business event."

The Halifax Convention Centre has a number of other large events coming up now that Phase 5 has been introduced, with the sci-fi, fantasy and gaming convention Hal-Con planned for this month.

The centre expects to see more national and international event bookings next year.


Gareth Hampshire is an award-winning journalist who began his career with CBC News in 1998. He has worked as a reporter in Edmonton and is now based in Halifax.