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COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, 2021

More lockdowns, deaths, and vaccines in Nova Scotia

16 min read
Lan Jianfu

Nova Scotia’s battle against COVID-19 continued in 2021.

In 2021, the province saw the end of its second wave and the third wave of the virus.

Over the course of two years, Nova Scotia saw over 100 COVID-19 related deaths.

On March 15, exactly one year after the first known case of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, the general public was given the opportunity to book their vaccination appointment. As of Dec. 6, almost 85 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

After almost two years of living with the coronavirus, Nova Scotia moved into Phase 5 of its reopening plan, switching from strict lockdowns to living with COVID-19.

The province has had an ongoing state of emergency.

The following timeline shows key dates and events in Nova Scotia’s continuing battle with COVID-19.


Jan. 4: Restaurants and establishments in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and Hants County can re-open for dine-in services with restrictions. Casinos and VLTs are still closed.

Jan. 5: The province announces that Nova Scotia is building an immunization plan with over a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected to arrive in the province over the next six months.

Jan. 9: Nova Scotia tightens the border and imposes a new self-isolation requirement for travellers entering Nova Scotia from New Brunswick. People travelling to the province must isolate for 14 days and complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form unless they are exempt from the order. People who regularly cross the border from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia for work do not need to self-isolate.

Jan. 19: Nova Scotia releases an update on the vaccine rollout, stating that the focus will be on healthcare workers directly involved in COVID-19 response, staff, residents, and designated caregivers in long-term care and residential facilities.

Jan. 22: First variant cases are found in Nova Scotia – one UK variant, B.1.1.7, and one South African variant, Beta.

Strang states that the public health restrictions will be extended until at least Feb. 7, and that the province is still in the middle of a “severe second wave.”

Jan. 25: The province allows mental health and addictions support groups to meet in groups of up to 25 instead of the previously capped number of 10, as long as social distancing can be enforced.


Feb. 1: Nova Scotia Public Health, ferry operators Bay Ferries Ltd., and the town of Yarmouth share their decision to not operate ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor, Maine during the 2021 season due to COVID-19.

Feb. 8: Public health restrictions ease, lasting until March 7.

  • Retail and fitness facilities can operate at 75 per cent capacity.
  • Recognized businesses and organizations can resume hosting events with 150 people outdoors or 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity to a maximum of 100 people indoors
  • Spectators are allowed at events, except when the events are held at schools

Feb. 10: Nova Scotia tightens the border with Newfoundland and Labrador because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. This measure requires travellers from N.L. to isolate for 14 days.

Two new additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant identified in Nova Scotia

Feb. 27: Restrictions in HRM, Porters Lake, Enfield, Elmsdale, Lantz, Mount Uniacke and Hubbards return to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions include:

  • Restaurants closing by 10 p.m.
  • A maximum of 10 people, including the officiant, can attend wedding ceremonies and funerals
  • Sports events, festivals, or other special events are not permitted
  • Sports practices and training and arts and culture rehearsals can have 25 people without social distancing, but there will be no games, competitions, in-person performances, and no spectators allowed
  • Residents from long-term care homes can only have visits from their designated caregivers


March 15: Anyone who is 80 and older can now register for either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. This is the first opportunity for the general public to become vaccinated against COVID-19.

March 18: One woman over the age of 80 dies in the central zone. Her death makes 66 COVID-related deaths in Nova Scotia and the first death linked to COVID-19 in 2021.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is now open to people aged 60 to 62.

March 20: Nova Scotians ages 63 and 64 are eligible to access the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The New Brunswick border reopens. New Brunswick residents no longer need to self-isolate upon arrival in Nova Scotia.

Restrictions in HRM and neighbouring communities will be lifted at 8 a.m.

  • Participants and officials in performing arts and sports can gather in groups of up to 60 people without social distancing for practices, performances, rehearsals, and regular competitive schedule
  • Restaurants and bars can return to previous dine-in service requirements.
  • Weddings and funerals can have 150 people outdoors or 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 100 in indoor venues.

March 25: Nova Scotia requests citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Edmundston, New Brunswick, because of an uptick of COVID-19 cases in the area.

March 26: People aged 75 and older are eligible to register to receive their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

March 31: Atlantic Canada’s first COVID-19 compliant courthouse opens, with the first trials beginning on March 31 in Dartmouth.


April 1: Anyone 70 and older can book their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine appointment.

April 6: AstraZeneca vaccine appointments open for people who are between the ages of 55 and 64.

April 7: Newfoundland and Labrador border reopens, allowing the Atlantic bubble to reform. All residents of Atlantic Canada can come to Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate upon arrival.

April 9: Nova Scotians 65 and older are now eligible to book Pfizer or Moderna vaccine appointments.

April 15: Nova Scotia again tightens border restrictions with New Brunswick. People entering Nova Scotia via New Brunswick will need to self-isolate upon arrival in Nova Scotia.

April 16: Nova Scotia renews the state of emergency. One woman over the age of 80 has died in the central zone. At this point, the province announces that every person who wants a vaccine dose will receive it by the end of June.

April 17: A staff member at Glasgow Hall, a long-term care facility in Dartmouth, tests positive for COVID-19. The next day, another staff member at Glasgow Hall tests positive.

April 21: Due to concerns over the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Halifax, the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship scheduled for May 6 through 16 in Halifax and Truro are cancelled.

One staff member at Ocean View Continuing Care Centre, a long-term care facility in Eastern Passage, tests positive for COVID-19.

There is an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases in schools, including cases in South Woodside Elementary School, St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary School, Dartmouth South Academy Elementary, Auburn Drive High, Joseph Giles Elementary, Shannon Park Elementary, and Bell Park Academic Centre announced between April 18 and April 21.

April 23: The province imposes “circuit breaker” restrictions to HRM, including the surrounding communities of Hubbards, Milford, Lantz, Elmsdale, Enfield, Mount Uniacke, South Uniacke, Ecum Secum, and Trafalgar. “While the majority of cases are in the central zone, COVID-19 can easily find its way into other parts of the province. We must all remain vigilant and continue working to limit spread within, and beyond, Halifax,” Strang said.

caption Map of HRM and surrounding communities affected by “circuit breaker” restrictions on April 23.

Some schools move to at-home learning for a two-week period, including the Auburn Drive High family of schools, Cole Harbour District High family of schools, École secondair Mosaïque, École du Carrefour, and École Bois-Joli.

One case was identified as a staff member at Ivy Meadows, a long-term care facility in Beaver Bank.

April 24: Students in the Prince Andrew family of schools start learning from home until May 10.

April 25: The gathering limit for most of Nova Scotia, outside of HRM, reduces to 10 people for both indoor and outdoor settings. HRM gathering limits remain at five.

People aged 55 and older are now eligible to book Pfizer and Moderna vaccine appointments.

April 27: Schools in HRM close in preparation for at-home learning out of an abundance of caution.

April 28: New restrictions for the entire province come into effect and will last until at least May 12. The fine for breaking any of these rules is $2,000 for a first offence. This includes:

  • Gathering only with household bubbles
  • No unnecessary travel between communities
  • Mandatory masking outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Mandatory masking in private indoor workplaces, public areas, common areas, and areas where social distancing cannot be maintained
  • Retail stores that do not provide services essential to life must close
  • Restaurants are closed for dine-in service, but contactless take-out or delivery is permitted
  • Personal services such as hair salons and spas are closed
  • Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax and Sydney and First Nations gaming establishments and VLTS must close
  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies can have five people, plus an officiant
  • No social gathering, including wedding reception, funeral visitations, faith gatherings, and sports events
  • All fitness facilities are closed
  • Museums and libraries are closed, but libraries can offer pick-up and drop-off of books and other materials
  • No visitors or volunteers inside long-term care facilities

One new COVID-19 case has been identified in a staff member in Northwood’s Halifax campus, a nursing home in Halifax. Northwood was the location of an outbreak where 53 residents died from the virus.

Another case has been identified in a staff member at Quest Regional Rehabilitation Centre in Lower Sackville.

April 29: Schools in HRM begin at-home learning.

April 30: People aged between 40 and 54 now eligible to book an AstraZeneca vaccine appointment. At this point, 31 per cent of Nova Scotians over the age of 16 have had one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

One case found in a staff member at Clarmar Residential Care Facility in Dartmouth. This is the second case involving staff at this facility.


May 1: Two new cases are identified as residents of Clarmar Residential Care Facility.

One case is found in a staff member at Shoreham Village long-term care home in Chester.

May 3: People aged 50 and older now able to book an appointment for a dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

May 4: Nova Scotia announces two COVID-19 related deaths, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 70s.

May 6: Two new cases involve a staff member and a resident at the Clarmar Residential Facility in Dartmouth. These cases make the third staff member and the third resident to test positive at this facility.

May 7: People aged 45 and older now eligible to book an appointment for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dosage.

One woman in her 70s dies of COVID-19 complications. Her death brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Nova Scotia up to 71.

May 8: Another man in his 70s dies from a COVID-19 related cause.

One positive case is found in a staff member of Melville Gardens, a residential care facility in Halifax. Another positive case is found in a staff member at Harbour View Haven, a nursing home in Lunenburg. There are no additional cases found at the Clarmar Residential Facility in Dartmouth.

May 9: A staff member at Northwood Home Care in Halifax tests positive for COVID-19.

May 10 Nova Scotia’s first drive-thru vaccination clinic opens at Dartmouth General Hospital.

Nova Scotia implements new border measures which only allows residents of Nova Scotia and people travelling for essential reasons to enter the province.

May 11: People aged 40 and older can book appointments to receive either a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine dose.

May 12: Nova Scotia pauses the use of AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose. This is because of a link to vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VIIT) in other provinces. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, blurred vision, skin bruising, sudden and severe headache, and leg swelling.

May 13: So far, the province has given 400,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with almost 38 per cent of Nova Scotians having had one or more doses of the vaccine.

Eight patients in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre have tested positive for COVID-19.

May 14: A ninth patient in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre has tested positive for COVID-19.

One man in his 80s dies from a COVID-19 related cause.

Harbour View Haven in Lunenburg sees one case involving a resident after a staff member tested positive on May 8.

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia orders a halt to anti-vaccine and anti-public health order protests.

May 15: One positive case involves a staff member at The Ivy Meadows, a long-term care facility in Beaver Bank.

May 17: Two more patients in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre test positive for COVID-19.

People 30 and older can now book a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine appointment.

May 19: Nova Scotia announces two deaths, a man and a woman, both in their 60s. Their deaths make 75 total deaths related to COVID-19 in the province.

One more patient in a non-COVID unit at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre tests positive for COVID-19, the 10th patient to do so.

The province announces that public health restrictions will remain in place across Nova Scotia until at least the second week of June. All schools will continue at-home learning for the rest of the school year.

May 20: Two new cases are identified in care homes. One positive case each in a staff member at Glasgow Hall in Dartmouth and My Cape Breton Home for Seniors in North Sydney.

People 25 and older can now book a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine appointment.

May 21: The province announces another two COVID-19 related deaths, both men in their 70s.
One new case related to a staff member of Melville Lodge, a nursing home in Halifax.

The Nova Scotia-New Brunswick travel protocol expands to include P.E.I. Travellers can use this protocol to travel between Nova Scotia and these two provinces for work, school, child-care, or vet services without needing to self-isolate upon arrival to Nova Scotia. Newfoundland and Labrador still face self-isolation restrictions.

May 22: A woman in her 60s dies from COVID-19.

Nova Scotia hits a milestone of 500,000 vaccine doses administered. The province announces that more than 45 per cent of Nova Scotians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

May 23: A man and a woman, both in their 70s, die due to COVID-19. Their deaths bring the total number to 80.

May 25: People 20 and older are now eligible to book an appointment to receive a dose of either Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

May 27: One new case is found in a staff member at Harbourstone Enhanced Care, a long-term care facility in Sydney.

People 12 and older can now book an appointment to receive a dose of either Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

May 30: The province announces five COVID-19 related deaths between May 29 and 30, three men in their 80s, a woman in her 70s, and a woman in her 80s.


June 1: Nova Scotia resumes the use of AstraZeneca for second doses only. People who have received AstraZeneca as a first dose are able to receive a second dose of either AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna. People who received a Pfizer or Moderna first dose can receive either a Pfizer or Moderna second dose.

June 2: Nova Scotia announces another two COVID-19 related deaths, both men in their 60s. There have been 87 COVID-19 related deaths in the province.

The first case of the rare blood clotting condition VIIT has been identified and treated. The man is in his 40s.

June 3: The province reports another COVID-19 related death, a man in his 30s. This is the youngest death caused by COVID-19 during 2021.

June 11: A man in his 50s dies from COVID-19 complications as the state of emergency is renewed.

Nova Scotia announces that there were two Delta variant cases in the province. This is the first instance of the Delta variant in Nova Scotia.

June 14: A woman in her 80s dies from COVID-19 related complications. Her death makes 90 total deaths in the province due to COVID-19.

June 16: Nova Scotia starts its second phase of its reopening plan:

  • Informal gatherings can have 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors without physical distancing
  • Faith gatherings, weddings, and funerals, as well as receptions and visitations hosted by a recognized business or organization can have 25 per cent capacity to a maximum of 50 people indoors or 75 people outdoors
  • Restaurants can operate indoors and outdoors at their maximum capacity with physical distance between patrons at different tables and a limit of 10 people per table
  • All retail stores can operate at 50 per cent capacity
  • Personal services like salons and spas can operate by appointment only
  • Driving schools and exams can resume
  • Fitness and recreation facilities can operate at 50 per cent capacity
  • Museums and libraries can open at 25 per cent capacity
  • Volunteers can resume their activities in long-term care homes

June 18: Nova Scotia moves to lift the injunction on illegal gatherings now that COVID-19 infections are easing. The hearing date for the motion has been set for June 22.

June 22: The province announces two COVID-19 related deaths, a man in his 60s and a man in his 50s.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court lifts the injunction on illegal gatherings.

June 23: Nova Scotia’s borders open to the Atlantic provinces, recreating the Atlantic bubble. Residents of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador are able to travel to Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate. If a traveller has completed 14 days of self-isolation in the other Atlantic provinces, they are free to travel to Nova Scotia without further isolation requirements.

June 30: Nova Scotia starts Phase 3 of its reopening plan, allowing residents from any part of Canada to come to Nova Scotia for any reason, with isolation requirements based on vaccination status.


July 5: International travellers can come to Nova Scotia but must self-isolate for 14 days.

July 14: Nova Scotia starts the fourth phase of its reopening plan. There are several policy changes in gatherings, business, sports etc.

  • more people are allowed to gather indoor and outdoor
  • masks are still required in restaurants
  • fitness and recreation facilities are allowed to operate
  • border policies remain.

July 23: The province advises Nova Scotians about an uncommon event following immunization with mRNA vaccine called myocarditis and pericarditis. These reactions appear to be more common in males after the second dose.


Aug 4: Nova Scotia Health launches to support those affected by COVID-19. The website helps those diagnosed work towards recovery, and support health-care providers and teams who are caring for patients in their communities.


Sept 7: Schools open following Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan. Students, families and staff can expect:

  • continued use of outdoor learning, small-group instruction, and enhanced use of technology
  • full resumption of music classes, band, sports, use of cafeterias, lockers and cubbies, extra-curricular activities and community use of gyms, following core public health measures
  • non-essential visitors permitted (following all safety protocols), although virtual meetings and visits are still encouraged
  • parents and guardians of pre-primary and Primary students will be able to visit schools on their child’s first day

Sept 14: Nova Scotia announces delay in starting Phase 5 of its reopening plan when the proof of full vaccination policy will begin for certain events and activities.

Sept 29: Families of children in pre-primary to Grade 6 in Nova Scotia’s public school system are able to receive free COVID-19 rapid testing kits.


Oct 4: Official start of Phase 5 of reopening plan. People 12 and older need to provide proof of full vaccination to participate in most events and activities that bring groups of people together.

  • masks still mandatory in indoor public places
  • physical distancing and gathering limits for events hosted by a recognized business or organization are lifted
  • the informal gathering limits of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors remain in place
  • proof of full vaccination is required for non-essential events and activities

Nova Scotians can add COVID-19 vaccines that they received outside the province or through a workplace vaccination program to their Nova Scotia proof of vaccination.

People coming from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador need to complete Nova Scotia Safe Check-in form, which they didn’t need before.

Oct 12: Duc d’Anville Elementary in Halifax closes until Oct. 15 to prevent further spread of the virus among the school community. 25 new cases are reported.

Oct 19: Nova Scotians who are moderately to severely immunocompromised or who are taking medications that substantially suppress their immune system are able to book a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Some Nova Scotians are eligible for a third dose for work-related travel.

A small outbreak is reported at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville. Three patients test positive for COVID-19.


Nov 1: All domestic travellers to Nova Scotia 12 and older need to have their own Nova Scotia Check-in form. Travellers who are not fully vaccinated must isolate at least seven days.

Nov 5: Employers are required to collect and report vaccination rates as part of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

More booster doses available this month to eligible groups, including:

  • anyone 80 and older, followed by anyone ages 70 to 79
  • adult frontline healthcare workers who were double vaccinated with an interval of fewer than 28 days between their first and second doses
  • people who received two doses of the AstraZeneca Vaxzevria/COVISHIELD vaccine or one dose of Janssen vaccine

Nov 15: Three deaths related to COVID-19 are reported. This is the most deaths reported in one day since July.

Nov 17: A pastor of the Gospel Light Baptist Church in Amherst is fined $2,422 for a gathering which contravened the COVID-19 order. 41 people tested positive for COVID-19 and two of them have died due to the illegal gathering.

Nov 18: Fines for individuals and organizations hosting events or gatherings that ignore public health increases. Here are the details:

  • fines will start at the highest maximum penalty under the act of $2,422 for a first offence and increase to $11,622 for individuals
  • fines will start at the highest maximum penalty under the act of $11,622 for a first offence and increase to $57,622 for the second and each subsequent offence
  • individuals may also face jail time

Nov 19: Nova Scotia announces plan to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11, with booking set to start later in the month.

Nov 23: Anyone eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose of mRNA vaccine can schedule an appointment.

Nov 26: Nova Scotia approves emergency funding for 56 recreation facilities owned and operated by non-profit organizations to help them adapt to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

Nov 30: Under both the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for key sectors and the provincial civil service vaccination directive, this is the deadline for all those employees to have at least a first dose of vaccine.


Dec 1: Travel restrictions for children 11 and younger for the purposes of participating in out-of-province sports or arts and culture events. Individuals, businesses and organizations in Nova Scotia cannot host sports games, competitions and tournaments or arts and culture performances that include children 11 and younger from outside the province as participants.

Dec 3:  Nova Scotia reports that 99.2 per cent of 58,519 frontline workers have received vaccines and 97 per cent are fully vaccinated. 960 employees are on unpaid leave because they are not vaccinated.

Dec 7: More Nova Scotians eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose, including:

  • people 60 and older
  • all frontline healthcare workers, including community providers like dentists and pharmacists regardless of the interval between their first two doses
  • increase the minimum interval between first and second doses from 28 days to eight weeks; any second dose appointments currently scheduled on a 28-day interval will be honoured.

Dec. 7: 1,673,788 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 796,117 Nova Scotians have received their second dose, and 34,366 eligible Nova Scotians have received a third dose.

Dec 8: An outbreak is reported at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. 21 people in the university tested positive for COVID-19.

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs complete 4,454 tests.

Dec 9: Nova Scotia reports 52 new cases of COVID-19. 38 new cases are related to the outbreak at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish.

There have been 2,636 positive COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths in Nova Scotia since August.

Nova Scotia has completed 1,433,298 tests for COVID-19 in total.

All information has been retrieved from the government of Nova Scotia’s news releases.

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