Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia's proof-of-vaccine policy: what you need to know

Nova Scotia's COVID-19 proof-of-vaccine system started Monday, requiring people to show proof they're fully vaccinated before they're permitted to enter non-essential venues across the province.

People now have to show ID and proof of vaccination to enter non-essential venues

Nova Scotians will need to show proof of vaccination to enter non-essential venues. The province has not said how long the new policy will last. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia's COVID-19 proof-of-vaccine system started Monday, requiring people to show proof they're fully vaccinated before they're permitted to enter non-essential venues across the province. 

People won't have to show anything to enter what the province has deemed essential venues, including grocery stores, pharmacies, health-care services, banks, shops, any place where government services are offered, faith services and many other places. 

People will have to show either physical or digital proof they've had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter restaurants, bars, sports venues, gyms, theatres, cinemas and casinos, among other "non-essential" locations. The second dose must have come 14 days before the date you're trying to enter the establishment.

A full list of both categories is available online

People will also have to show an ID to confirm the vaccine record is their own. It doesn't have to be a photo ID. People can use their driver's licence, passport, health card, birth certificate, student card or certification of Indian status. 

People can show the physical cards, photocopies, digital versions, or clear photos or screenshots of both the ID and the proof-of-vaccine document. 

Nova Scotians can use a photo or screengrab of their proof of vaccination or print them out. (Government of Nova Scotia)

The rules only apply to people 12 and older. People who aren't permanent residents of Nova Scotia can show their proof of vaccination and ID from their home province, territory or country. 

Proof of vaccination document

Nova Scotians can download their proof of vaccination from this provincial government website or by calling 1-833-797-7772. You need your health card to log into the site. Once you download the certificate showing you've had two doses of vaccine, you can either print a hard copy or store it on your phone. 

You can show your ID in card, paper and digital formats, as well as clear photos, screenshots and photocopies. 

Where you don't need it

People do not need to show ID or proof of vaccination to enter most places that don't host formal gatherings and places that offer essential services, such as:

  • retail stores
  • financial institutions
  • professional services like accountants and lawyers
  • personal services like hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons and body art establishments
  • health-care services and health professions like doctor's offices, dental care, massage therapy and physiotherapy
  • rental accommodations like hotel rooms, cottages and campgrounds
  • faith services
  • pre-primary to grade 12 school-based activities and field trips that take place during the school day (unless a field trip is for an event or activity where proof of full vaccination is required), before- and after-school programs and school buses
  • post-secondary institutions (universities, NSCC, private career colleges and language schools) unless they're hosting events or activities that the public attend
  • mental health and addictions support groups
  • business meetings and other activities in the workplace that involve people who regularly work together and where the public isn't present (unless it's in a rented space)
  • legislatively required meetings where public participation can't be done virtually (like municipal council meetings where citizens have a democratic right to participate)
  • safety training that's required for a person's job and can't be done virtually
  • places where government services are offered (like Access Nova Scotia)
  • food banks, shelters, family resource centres and adult day programs for seniors and people with disabilities
  • programs and services for vulnerable populations that can't be offered virtually (except if meals are offered; meals can only be provided through takeout or delivery to people who can't show proof of full vaccination)
  • informal gatherings at a private residence
  • general access to public libraries (like borrowing books and using computers)
  • public transportation

Where you do need it

People do need to show ID and proof of vaccination in non-essential events and venues that gather groups, such as: 

  • full-service restaurants where patrons sit at tables to be served, both indoors and on patios
  • food establishments (like fast food and coffee shops) where people sit to eat and drink, both indoors and on patios (not including takeout, drive-thru or delivery)
  • liquor licensed (drinking) establishments (like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms, craft taprooms and liquor manufacturers), both indoors and on patios
  • casinos and gaming establishments, both indoors and on patios
  • fitness establishments (like gyms and yoga studios) and sport and recreation facilities (like arenas, pools and large multipurpose recreation facilities)
  • businesses and organizations offering indoor and outdoor recreation and leisure activities (like climbing facilities, dance classes, escape rooms, go-carts, indoor arcades, indoor play spaces, music lessons, pottery painting, shooting ranges and outdoor adventure)
  • indoor and outdoor festivals, special events and arts and culture events (like theatre performances, concerts and movie theatres), unless they're outdoor events held in a public space with no specific entry point (like Nocturne)
  • indoor and outdoor sports practices, games, competitions and tournaments (participants and spectators)
  • indoor and outdoor extracurricular school-based activities, including sports
  • bus, boat and walking tours
  • museums, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and public library programs
  • indoor and outdoor events and activities like receptions, social events, conferences and training that are hosted by a business or organization
  • indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies and funerals (including receptions and visitation) that are hosted by a business or organization
  • community meetings in rental spaces or where the public may be present (like annual general meetings of businesses or organizations)
  • training hosted by a business or organization (like driver training or courses offered by a business that provides training) and any training using a rental space

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said businesses and people who do not follow the rules could face substantial fines. 

He said workplaces can develop their own proof-of-vaccine policies. People still need to wear masks indoors at public places, including essential venues.

"It's the unvaccinated that are putting huge pressures on our health-care system and because of that, in other parts of the country, there are many people with non-COVID-related health care that can't get the care they need and their lives are put at risk," Strang told CBC News. 

"This is about doing what is necessary to keep each other safe and protect our health-care system."

The province has not said how long the new policy will last.