Nova Scotia

Mask, screening requirements to end at Nova Scotia Health facility entrances

Nova Scotia Health will remove screeners and mandatory masking requirement at the entrances to its facilities starting Sunday.

Measures were put in place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

Emergency entrance to the Halifax Infirmary is shown.
COVID-19 screening and mandatory masking requirements for entry to hospitals will end on Sunday. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia Health will remove COVID-19 screeners from the entrances to its facilities starting Sunday, according to a release from the authority.

The screeners asked COVID-19 screening questions, provided masks and enforced hand-hygiene rules.

A mandatory masking policy is also being dropped for people entering the facilities, and for common areas and most day-surgery and clinic areas.

The measures were put in place during the early days of the pandemic.

Speaking to CBC Radio's Information Morning Cape Breton on Thursday, Angela Keenan, senior director of the Emerging and Reemerging Infections Network with Nova Scotia Health, said the move follows "multi-layered" discussions at all levels of the health-care system.

A woman with red hair is seen standing outside in a garden setting.
Angela Keenan is senior director of the Emerging and Reemerging Infections Network with Nova Scotia Health (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Response evolving

She said the authority's response to the pandemic has been changing over the past few months, with some changes happening gradually.

"Our respiratory safety plan looks at a lot of community-based factors, hospital-admission factors, admission rates, rate of positivity," Keenan said.

"We look at all of those factors to decide what's the best way to protect, you know, the hospital setting and the hospital environment, and [ask] how can our health-care workers continue to interact and support patients while protecting themselves and those that they're serving?"

Avoid facilities if symptomatic

Keenan said with COVID-19 infection rates increasing and respiratory virus season approaching, Nova Scotia Health is asking people who are symptomatic and do not need to enter its facilities to refrain from doing so.

The release said pre-screening for respiratory viruses will take place at the unit or clinic level through questions asked in appointment letters and phone calls.

Staff will also conduct assessments of patients to determine their risk of exposure and take the appropriate precautions, the release said.

People with COVID-19 symptoms will still be required to wear a mask when entering a Nova Scotia Health facility, it said.

Health-care workers will be required to wear a mask when providing patient care in emergency departments and areas of the hospital with patients at highest risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infections, the release said.

Medical staff at the hospital must wear a mask if the patient or their essential care partner are masked or if they request that the worker they are interacting with be masked, it said.


With files from Information Morning Cape Breton