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Nova Scotia announces mandatory quarantine for public sector staff and students returning from outside Canada

Brian Johnston, QC and Jennifer Thompson

In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, Premier Stephen McNeil and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Strang have announced that all public sector employees who have travelled outside Canada must self-isolate for 14 days following their return to Canada before they are allowed to come back to the workplace. These employees will be paid during the quarantine period.

The requirement to self-isolate also applies to students returning from travel outside Canada, who must also self-isolate for 14 days before returning to school or daycare. This applies regardless of whether their parents or caregivers are public sector employees. Schools will otherwise be re-opening as usual after March break for those students who have not been outside Canada. There will be measures in place to limit large gatherings, with school concerts and assemblies prohibited.

The province is also recommending that large gatherings of more than 150 people not occur, although this is not mandatory at this stage.

The premier has encouraged private sector employers to take the same steps, namely requiring all employees returning from travel outside Canada to self-isolate for 14 days and minimizing large gatherings. The premier also asked that private sector employers support their employees in the same way that the province is supporting public sector employees, suggesting that they should consider continuing to pay them through the period of self-isolation.

As of March 13, 2020 there are no cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. However, Dr. Strang emphasized that “If we wait until it’s here, it’s too late”, calling on the public to take the steps required to protect the wider community. The government has indicated that it will revisit the measures as necessary.


This article is provided for general information only. If you have any questions about the above, please contact a member of our Labour and Employment Group.

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