Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic Information and Resources

On March 22, 2020, the province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency, limiting gatherings to no more than five (5) people. Police are now authorized to enforce orders under the Protection Act related to self-isolation and social distancing, and can issue summary offence tickets for people not adhering to those orders. 

As of March 29, 2020, there are 122 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia but the virus has been spreading globally and it is likely we will see more cases in the province. It is important for everyone to be prepared and to do their part in slowing down the spread of the virus.

Downtown Halifax Business Commission (DHBC) will be following the directives of public health organizations, in particular: Nova Scotia Health Authority, Health Canada, and the World Health Organization, and will be asking businesses in Downtown Halifax to do the same. DHBC will be providing updates and further communication as the situation develops.


The Halifax Chamber of Commerce has created the COVID-19 NS Business Labour Economic Coalition (new name), of which DHBC is an active member. The group represents the business and labour community and will work to support businesses, labour, and employees and allow collaboration across Nova Scotia during this uncertain time. The coalition virtually meets three times a week, with representatives from all orders of government on the calls.

The United Way has formed the Atlantic Compassion Fund, which has raised $1.5 million and will be distributing  funds to not-for-profits. The Fund will help agencies across Atlantic Canada respond to the unique, immediate and emerging needs in their local community. For information on how to donate and/or how to apply for funding, click here. 

The Nova Scotia Department of Business has created a standardized rent deferral agreement template (gross lease template) (net lease template) for tenants to use with landlords. The hope is that the tenant can engage the landlord in discussion, come to an agreement on rent deferral, and use this form to put it on paper. The agreement, as presented, defers rent for April, May, and June and spreads it over the remaining period of the lease commencing on July 1, 2020. The Nova Scotia government has also announced that they will guarantee deferred rent up to $5,000/month for three months for businesses that had to close directly due to the health order. Read the full annnouncement here.

Prime Minister announces support for small businesses facing impacts of COVID-19. To further support small businesses, the Government of Canada will (in summary):

  • Increasing the wage subsidy from 10% to 75%.
  • Allow businesses, including self-employed, to defer all GST and HST payments until June.
  • Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account – offering $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses.
  • Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending through EDC and BDC.

Episode 14: Downtown Halifax Covid-19 Crisis Update - Monday March 23, 2020

In another special COVID-19 pandemic episode, Paul MacKinnon, CEO of Downtown Halifax Business Commission, joins Ivy and Allana to discuss the situation, DHBC’s role during the pandemic, resources for businesses, and a list of temporary closures and cancellations as of March 23

Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotifyBreakerAnchor, or Podcast Atlantic. 

Advice for employers and community groups (source: Nova Scotia Health Authority):

Employers should think about what they can do to help staff stay healthy and prevent spread of any respiratory illness, including COVID-19. As well as following the advice for individuals, businesses and community groups should:

  • make sure you have a business continuity or emergency plan in place
  • think about what you’ll do if several of your employees get sick
  • support employees who get sick – talk to your staff about flexible hours or alternative work options if they need to stay at home for an extended period
  • post handwashing signs and provide alcohol-based hand rub to encourage frequent hand hygiene
  • make sure spaces and surfaces are cleaned
  • don’t request doctors’ notes from employees who get sick or self-isolate
  • remove non-essential items like magazines, stuffed toys, and other items that can’t be easily cleaned from reception areas

Below are links to where you can find updates, advice, and resources for prevention and preparedness:

Halifax Regional Municipality
Nova Scotia Health Authority
Health Canada
Health Canada: risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak
World Health Organization
Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia's COVID-19 Protocol for Restaurants in Nova Scotia
Summary of Federal Government Iinitiatives
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Downtown Halifax Temporary Closures, Cancellation and Restrictions List (as of March 26, 2020):


  • As of Sunday, March 22, 2020, the province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • There are to be no gatherings of more than five (5) in a group.
  • Police across the province are authorized to enforce social distancing and self-isolation.
  • All drinking establishments (including winery and distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms) are closed.
  • All restaurants will no longer have in-person dining and will offer take-out and delivery only, but can include alcohol as long as the cost of the alcohol is no more than three times the value of the food ordered, effective March 30, 2020.
  • Many food establishments are no longer accepting cash.
  • Organizations and businesses are required to practise social distancing of two metres (6 feet).
  • Patrons are encouraged to purchase gift cards now to use later.
  • Order take-out via phone or online as much as you normally would. Many restaurants are offering discounts on take-out.
  • Many restaurants are offering free delivery.


  • All fitness establishments, such as gyms, are closed.
  • Private liquor stores can continue to operate and craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries can continue to seel their product from their storefronts.
  • Personal services, such as hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons, and body art establishments closed.
  • Dental offices are suspending  non-essential and elective dental sesrvices, and providing emergency services only.
  • Non-regulated health professions (such as naturopaths) are closed. One exception is podiatrists who must follow the directive related to regulated health professions.
  • Other businesses and offices may be closed or have staff working from home. It is best to call a business in advance to make sure they are open.
  • The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market is temporarily closed until further notice. 
  • Nova Scotia Public Sector Employees are required to self-isolate for 14 days following their return.
  • Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is temporarily closed until further notice and all programing will be cancelled or rescheduled. 
  • Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is temporarily closed to the public until further notice. 
  • Canadian Museum of Immigration Pier 21 is closed to the public effective March 14, this includes all March Break Public Programming.
  • Discovery Centre will close Monday, March 16, until further notice.
  • All Roman Catholic masses will be suspended as of Monday, March 16, until further notice including Saint Mary's Cathedral Basilica
  • Halifax Convention Centre and Scotiabank Centre are closed to events and public access until further notice. 
  • Art 1274 Hollis will be closed until March 31, and will provide a reopening update at a later date.
  • Captured Escape Rooms is temporarily closed for two weeks as of March 18. 
  • Insight Optometry is closing non-urgent eye services. For emergency services, clients are asked to call 902-424-4444
  • Ocean Optometry is ceasing normal operations and is only open for emergency situations. If in need of urgent care, call 902-446-4470.
  • The Prince George Hotel is temporarily suspending operations. For customers with existing reservations, please call 1-800-565-1567 to be assisted in making alternative arrangements at the Cambridge Suites Halifax hotel. 
  • Residence Inn by Marriott is temporarily suspending operations. 





  • The Mayor’s office is closed until further notice.
  • The Nova Scotia Supreme Court is suspending all jury trials in the province for 60 days.
  • All civil weddings in Nova Scotia courthouses have been cancelled. 
  • Government House is closed, and all events for the next 30 days are postponed. 
  • Province House is closed to public until further notice, including the Legislative Library. 


  • Parking fees at meters have been waived and HotSpot fees will be set to zero until further notice.
  • Enforcement of hourly spaces and monthly permit parking is suspended until further notice. Residential permits will still be enforced. If your residential permit has recently expired, you will not receive a ticket. Please note: These steps are in an effort to support healthcare workers and residents seeking medical attention. Please be considerate of the duration of your parking.In the event normal operations have not resumed by April, monthly parking permits already purchased will be rolled over to the following month.
  • Tickets issued on or before March 19 at noon are still valid and can be paid online, cheque by mail or in person when customer service operations resume.
  • Safety-related aspects of the Provincial Motor Vehicle Act will continue to be enforced (e.g. no parking in crosswalks, parking distance from fire hydrants, signage indicating no stopping, etc.)


  • The 5-person social gathering limit and two metre social distancing limit does not apply to Halifax Transit as stated in the provincial order.
  • ​Buses and ferries will continue to operate on a reduced schedule.
  • Halifax Transit has taken steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 including an increased frequency of wipe-downs of high-touch surfaces, making the first seat unavailable to riders on buses (this does not impact accessible seating), limiting passengers on buses to seated passengers only, and limiting the number of ferry passengers to 50 per trip. 
  • Riders must continue to board and exit through the rear doors only and are asked to only use transit services if necessary.
  • Riders should continue to social distance as much as possible and should not use transit if they are feeling unwell.
  • For more information on municipal services during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit

For more information on what Downtown Halifax businesses are open or open online, click here.

More information on cancellations and restrictions in and around Halifax related to the COVID-19 outbreak here.