COVID-19: Production in Nova Scotia

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Introduction: 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. 

The Province of Nova Scotia has confirmed directly to Screen Nova Scotia that the original 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 has a reliable health and safety plan in place, production can happen. For the film and television industry, this currently means:

  • Groups of 5 may gather without social distancing or use of personal protective equipment (PPE).  The individuals in a  group of 5 are not required to be exclusive but are strongly encouraged to be consistent. These are temporarily restrictions that will be reviewed in mid-December 2020.
  • Beyond a group of 5, practice social distancing – stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other people.
  • When physical distancing cannot be maintained, appropriate steps must be taken to minimize risk including the use of PPE.
  • Everyone travelling from outside of the Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfound and Labrador) must self-isolate for 14 days and follow the instruction provided by this Government  of Nova Scotia link HERE.

Further information regarding the Nova Scotia State of Emergency and the Health Protection Order can be found HERE.

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: 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.

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

Sourcing PPE: To assist businesses and other organizations in reopening and sourcing of personal protective equipment (PPE), the Province has established the Nova Scotia Workplace PPE Supplier Directory. Click HERE to access and download the directory.

Travel Restrictions / Letter of Immigration: The Canada-US border is currently closed for non-essential travel until 2021, subject to extension by the Federal Government. However, Nova Scotia’s film industry is open for production, which means that a foreign national with a work permit or with a permit application can travel into the country so long as they are asymptomatic and have a quarantine plan that meets the requirements of the Mandatory Isolation order under the Quarantine Act (i.e. 14 days in quarantine and a detailed plan on how will you intend to manage living in quarantine).

Travelling into Nova Scotia is not without risk as the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has full discretion to make the final decision of whether or not a Temporary Foreign Worker is necessary. Below is a detailed list of what an employer could  include in a package to arm Temporary Foreign Workers through CBSA, customs, and into Nova Scotia.  Please note that this is only a guide, and is not exhaustive. 

  • Confirmation not only that Nova Scotia is open for business, but that the Employer is open for business. CBSA will look at each employee individually and whether their individual offer of employment stands.
  • The length and terms of the entrants employment contract.
  • Commitment by the employer that the entrant will be paid during their 14 day quarantine period and that they will be employed after the 14 day quarantine period is complete through to the end of their contract.
  • That the employer will not put at risk the safety of Nova Scotians by requesting the entrant leave their 14 day quarantine early, for any reason.
  • How they intend to support the entrant while they are in quarantine (safe transportation including appropriate PPE, grocery drop offs, necessities, etc.)
  • Who will be responsible for providing for the entrant while they are in a 14 day quarantine.
  • Hotel or alternative reservations, confirming where the 14 day quarantine will take place.
  • While in their place of quarantine, the individual will have a separate room and will not be in contact with any vulnerable individuals in their location of quarantine.

Screen Nova Scotia has created a letter of support for immigration purposes.  This letter is available to members of Screen Nova Scotia and is available for download HERE.

Nova Scotia is now part of an ‘Atlantic Bubble’, meaning that travellers within the Atlantic provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfound and Labrador) are not be required to self-isolate after crossing the borders. Everyone travelling from outside of the Atlantic Provinces must self-isolate for 14 days and follow the instruction provided by this Government of Nova Scotia link HERE.

Exceptions will only be considered for the following:

  • Visiting an immediate family member at end-of-life.
  • Attending the funeral, memorial or burial service of an immediate family member.
  • Urgent and critical work that requires specialized skills unavailable in Atlantic Canada.

Exceptions are for the specific activity requested only. You are still required to quarantine for the remainder of your first 14 days in Nova Scotia. To request a business exception to this requirement, you must complete the Nova Scotia Exceptions Request Form.

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, however active cases remain low and the Nova Scotia Provincial Government has reopened the economy. For up-to-date data on COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, please click HERE.

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 original 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 under the current PHO. Currently, once a production 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. For a list of what’s filming, please click HERE.

Craig Beaton, Executive Director, Culture and Heritage Development, Provincial Government of Nova Scotia wrote: “I’m writing today as a point of clarity for Screen Nova Scotia members as well as potential production and broadcast partners from other jurisdictions looking to do business in the province. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has confirmed directly to me that the original Health Protection Act Order had not closed businesses in the film and television sector therefore they are open for business and can operate under the current provincial Public Health Order. Dr. Strang has given me the approval for Screen Nova Scotia to share this message on his behalf.”  

For the Film and Television Industry this means productions may operate under the following restrictions: 

  • Groups of 5 may gather without social distancing. The group of 5 are not required to be exclusive but are strongly encouraged to be consistent.
  • Beyond a group of 5, practice social distancing – stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart from other people.
  • Everyone travelling from outside of Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 14 days and follow the instructions provided by the Government of Nova Scotia. 
  • Productions must adhere to a plan based on reliable health and safety guidelines.

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: Although the Canada-US border is closed for non-essential travel until 2021, Immigration for Temporary Foreign Workers to Nova Scotia is possible. Because Nova Scotia’s film industry is open for production, a foreign national with a work permit or with a permit application can travel into the country so long as they are asymptomatic and have a quarantine plan that meets the requirements of the Mandatory Isolation order under the Quarantine Act (i.e. 14 days in quarantine and a detailed plan on how will you intend to manage living in quarantine). If the entrant can satisfy these two requirements, they will then meet with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). CBSA has full discretion to decide whether the person entering is “necessary” (not to be confused with “essential”). Please see the Immigration section above for further information.

Q: Can I get insurance to film in Nova Scotia?
A: At this point in time, there are no insurance companies that are issuing policies without COVID-19 exclusions.

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.