COVID-19: Production in Nova Scotia

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The Government of Nova Scotia issued a provincial State of Emergency on March 22nd, 2020 which is currently still in effect. A Health Protection Order (HPO) is also in effect. However, the original Public Health Order (PHO) arising from the COVID-19 pandemic did not mandate businesses in the film and television sector to shut down and therefore they have remained open and can continue to operate going forward.

On May 7th, 2021, Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer, and N.S. Premier, Iain Rankin, announced further restrictions. These restrictions have not changed the way productions operate (with the exception of immigration/travel — please see the travel section below). Currently, once the production team has a reliable health and safety plan in place, production can happen. For the film and television industry, this currently means:

  • Group gatherings should be limited in accordance with Public Health guidance HERE.
  • Canadians approved for entry into Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 14 days and follow the instruction provided by this Government of Nova Scotia link HERE. 
  • Federally approved Temporary Foreign Workers who have been approved for entry into Nova Scotia and who have completed three days of self-isolation at a federally approved hotel, may reduce their quarantine time in Nova Scotia to 11 days.
  • Canadians and Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) entering the province must apply for an exemption to enter the province. Please see the travel section below for more information.

Further information regarding the Nova Scotia State of Emergency and the Health Protection Order can be found HERE. For the province’s multi-phase Reopening Plan, click HERE. Please note: we are currently in Phase 2. 

As always, Screen Nova Scotia is here to support your production plans. If you have any questions or concerns after reading this page, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly.


HEALTH & SAFETY GUIDELINES 

Health & Safety Guidelines: The health and safety of all individuals working on production is a top concern during COVID-19. Screen Nova Scotia’s “COVID-19 Related Health & Safety Guidelines for the Screen Industry” are intended to provide guidance to the Screen Industry as they navigate COVID-19 specific risk exposure, during the production of film and television in Nova Scotia.

These COVID-19 related guidelines were developed to incorporate expert advice, allow for alignment with provincial and federal public health and safety protocols, and promote the safe return to work in our industry prior to the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine. The guidelines were approved by the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, as well as the Dept of Labour and Advanced Education. Screen Nova Scotia’s Health and Safety Committee will continue to monitor amendments to the PHO and update these guidelines as required to ensure they reflect the restrictions in place. 

Click HERE to view and download Screen Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 Related Health & Safety Guidelines for the Screen Industry. Please note: the guidelines are currently undergoing a full update and review. The guidelines linked here are up-to-date with the exception of current travel restrictions. Please see the travel section below for more info. 

Department Specific Appendices: Screen Nova Scotia’s Health and Safety Committee has drafted a set of suggested practices for specific departments as appendices. These supplemental guidelines act as a complement to the COVID-19 Related Health & Safety Guidelines for the Screen Industry and will aid productions in developing their own set of show-specific customized protocols.

The appendices are intended as basic guidelines for those departments that will be most impacted by COVID-19 procedures. They have been compiled by the SNS Health and Safety Committee in consultation with DGC-ARC, IATSE Locals 849 and 667, and ACTRA Maritimes, with content from local, national and international documents. They are intended to help producers, cast, and crew navigate working conditions as currently prescribed by the Public Health Order.

Click HERE to view and download the Departmental Appendices to Screen Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 Related Health & Safety Guidelines for the Screen Industry.


TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS 

People from outside Nova Scotia can only enter the province for essential travel. Please read below for specific travel restrictions and the immigration process for workers employed on film productions.

Note: The application process for exemptions for international and Canadian film workers entering the province has changed and a new procedure is now in place. Please read below for more details.

For Canadians employed on an N.S. film production:
The procedure for productions who wish to apply for an exemption to travel film workers employed on productions in Nova Scotia has changed. Productions or individuals can apply. Please note that the individual, not the production, will receive an email confirmation when their entry has been approved. They will need to have this letter with them at the border.

The application process is as follows: CLICK HERE.

For international workers employed on an N.S film production: The Canada-US border is currently closed for non-essential travel. However, Nova Scotia’s film industry is open for business, which means that a foreign national with a work permit or with a permit application can travel into Canada via the four federally approved international airports (Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary) so long as they are asymptomatic and have a quarantine plan that meets the requirements.

Federally approved Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) travelling to Nova Scotia must also apply for travel exemption. The application process is as follows: CLICK HERE.

International travellers must complete 14 total days of isolation under the federal Quarantine Act. This does not require you to restart 14 days of isolation in Nova Scotia. If you complete three days at your point of entry in Canada and then continue to Nova Scotia, you finish the remaining 11 days here.

Letter of Immigration: Screen Nova Scotia has created a letter of support for immigration purposes. This letter is available for download HERE.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: FILMING IN NOVA SCOTIA

Q: What is the current COVID-19 situation in Nova Scotia?
A: On March 22nd, the Province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19.  The state of emergency has been renewed, and currently, the province of Nova Scotia has increased restrictions in place. However, these restrictions do not affect businesses in the film and television sectors, which remain open and can continue to operate. For up-to-date data on COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, please click HERE. For the province’s multi-phase Reopening Plan, click HERE. Please note that we are currently in Phase 2. 

Q: Can I film in Nova Scotia? Are there guidelines/protocols in place for filming?
A: The Province of Nova Scotia has confirmed directly to Screen Nova Scotia that the Public Health Order (PHO) arising from the Covid-19 pandemic did not close businesses in the film and television sectors, which therefore remained open, and can continue to operate. Currently, once a production team has a practical and reliable health and safety plan in place, production can happen.

Film and television production has been up and running in the province since June 2020, and the 2021 production season is on track to be one of the busiest years in recent history. For a list of what’s filming, please click HERE.

Click HERE to view and download Screen Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 Related Health & Safety Guidelines for the Screen Industry.

Q: Will I need a permit to film? Are permits currently available?
A: Yes, permits are currently available. Permits required for filming in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) can be acquired at the Halifax Film Office, which is open for business. The Halifax Film Office is the first point of contact when filming in the Halifax region — all municipal services can be facilitated in one call, from stop-and-go-traffic to securing municipal locations.

When filming outside the HRM, film permits/permissions are handled through the individual town’s municipal offices. Contacts can be provided by Screen Nova Scotia, or your local production manager and/or locations manager.

Q: Can I bring cast and crew across the Canadian border? What about inter-provincial travel? Are work permits available?
A: Yes. The application process for exemptions for international and Canadian film workers entering the province has changed, and a new procedure is now in place. Please review the travel section above for important additional information on this process.

Q: How can I source PPE for my production?
A: To assist businesses and other organizations in reopening and sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE), the Province has established the Nova Scotia Workplace PPE Supplier Directory. Click HERE to access and download the directory.

Q: What incentives are there for filming in Nova Scotia?
A: Nova Scotia offers several funding programs that make our province one of the most effective and competitive in the country. Please visit our incentives page HERE.

Q: How do I find the right location for my project?
A: Nova Scotia has been an in-demand location for regional and international filmmakers for decades. Located in eastern Canada and almost completely surrounded by ocean, the province of Nova Scotia offers a variety of unique and spectacular locations. With soundstage space and an environmental pool facility used to create realistic marine and underwater scenes, Nova Scotia has the state-of-the-art infrastructure to bring your production to life. Our experienced Locations Manager is standing by to create a free digital image package with inspirational Nova Scotia locations that perfectly match your script. We also offer support for incoming location scouts — more info available on our website HERE.


SUPPORT FOR MEMBERS

For information on financial aid programs for individuals and businesses, please follow the links below:

  • Federal support programs from the Government of Canada HERE.
  • Provincial support programs from the Government of Nova Scotia HERE.