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Nova Scotia: COVID-19 relief measures for your business

We know that this is a difficult time, full of uncertainty. The information you need to run your business changes rapidly, and it can be hard to keep track and make sense of it all.  

In order to relieve some of the pressure on small businesses such as yours, we are gathering all the information you need about government services and supports in Nova Scotia and putting it in this one location. We will continue working with governments to ensure additional relief measures become available for your business as the situation evolves.  

For more detailed information about Nova Scotia's recovery plan, please see the provincial website which is being kept up to date as changes are made.

As of January 4, 2021 restaurants and liquor licenced establishments in Halifax and Hants County can re-open for dine-in service with the following province-wide restrictions in place:

  • Restaurants can only serve dine-in customers until 10pm and must close by 11pm. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru service after 11pm.
     
  • Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments (like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms) can re-open for dine-in service. Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments can only serve dine-in customers until 10pm and must close by 11pm. Liquor licensed establishments can continue to offer take-out, delivery and drive-thru service after 11pm.

As of December 21, 2020 the following restrictions are province wide:

  • Restaurants can only serve dine-in customers until 10pm and must close by 11pm.
     
  • Liquor licensed (drinking) establishments (like bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms) can only serve customers until 10pm and must close by 11pm.
     
  • Retail stores need to follow the Health Protection Act Order, including:
    • limiting shoppers and staff to 25% of the store's capacity
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between patrons
    • keeping music to 50 decibels
    • only allowing lineups (indoor and outdoor) if patrons wear a non-medical mask
       
  • Shopping malls need to follow the Health Protection Act Order, including:
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between patrons
    • only allowing lineups (indoor and outdoor) if patrons wear a non-medical mask
    • lineups for each retail store are no more than 5 people
    • keeping music to 50 decibels
    • non-retail public areas in the mall are closed
    • food courts can remain open with public health measures in place including maintaining a minimum physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) between tables
       
  • Fitness establishments (like gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities) must operate at 50% capacity and follow the Health Protection Act Order and their sector-specific plan, including:
    • maintaining a minimum physical distance of 3 metres (9 feet) between participants during high intensity activities like spin and boxing classes 
    • staff and members must wear masks when they're not exercising
    • outdoor fitness classes can operate at 100% capacity and must maintain a minimum physical distance of 3 metres (9 feet) between participants during high intensity activities
    • weight rooms, cardio machine areas and fitness classes within sport and recreation facilities must operate at 50% capacity and must maintain a minimum physical distance of 3 metres (9 feet) between participants during high intensity activities.
       
  • Businesses and organizations are not permitted to host in-person events and activities, including:
    • arts and culture events
    • organized sports and physical activity (recreational, amateur and professional leagues)
    • festivals
    • special events
    • social events
    • wedding and funeral receptions
       
  • Indoor gathering limit with social distancing for faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies and funeral services that are run by a recognized business or organization - 50% of the venue's capacity up to 100 people maximum indoors (receptions are not permitted).
     
  • Outdoor gathering limit with social distancing for faith gatherings, wedding ceremonies and funeral services that are run by a recognized business or organization - 150 people maximum outdoors (receptions are not permitted).
    Mandatory Mask regulations

    Starting at 12:01 a.m. on July 31, non-medical masks are mandatory in most indoor public places.

    What are the places where masks will be mandatory?

    Non-medical masks are mandatory in the following indoor public places:

    • retail businesses
    • shopping centres
    • personal services businesses such as a hair and nail salons, spas, body art facilities, except during services that require removing a mask
    • restaurants and bars, except while you are eating or drinking
    • places of worship or faith gatherings
    • places for cultural or entertainment services or activities such as movie theatres, concerts, and other performances
    • places for sports and recreational activities such as a gym, pool, or indoor tennis facility, except during an activity where a mask cannot be worn
    • places for events such as conferences and receptions
    • municipal or provincial government locations offering services to the public
    • common areas of tourist accommodations such as lobbies, elevators and hallways
    • common areas of office buildings such as lobbies, elevators and hallways, but not private offices
    • public areas of a university or college campus such as library, student union building or common areas of a faculty building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences
    • train or bus stations, ferry terminals, and airports

    For more detailed please see the Mandatory Mask FAQ

    Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Impact Grant Pt 2 – Restaurant, Bar, and Fitness and Leisure Business Stream

    This program provides financial support to some small businesses in areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County that have been ordered to close or reduce operations under public health directives in effect from 26 November 2020. The program provides a grant of up to $5,000 to help cover operating expenses. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2021.

    If you previously received the Small Business Impact Grant or Small Business Reopening and Support Grant, your grant will be processed based on your previous applications through a shortened processes.
    The grant amount will match those you previously received. For more details, or if you are a new applicant, you can apply here.

    To be eligible, businesses must be one of the following:
    •    full service, dine in restaurants (not take-out restaurants or food trucks)
    •    bar or licensed drinking establishments (excluding winery and distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms)
    •    fitness and leisure establishments (like a gym, yoga or Pilates studio, rock-climbing facility, escape room, axe-throwing facility, or board game cafes)

    Provincial Government Resources

    NSBI Small Business Development

    NSBI has updated the Small Business Development Program to serve Nova Scotia businesses better. The program helps businesses work with a private consultant to overcome a pain point or barrier, or a business expert to help identify and develop the leadership skills needed to scale your company. 

    Business Navigators

    Business Navigators are available to help Nova Scotia businesses with any questions they may have. They can be reached Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm at 1-844-628-7347, 902-424-4475 or by email at [email protected] 

    For more detailed information, please visit the Nova Scotia COVID-19 information page.

    Business support website

    Business support during COVID-19 provides education, training and guidance for small businesses. Community innovation leads at NSCC help connect businesses with support programs available from post-secondary institutions and other regional organizations.

    Employment Standards: Emergency Leave

    If you need to lay off employees temporarily, there is no requirement to give or pay notice since the COVID-19 is a circumstance that could not be foreseen by an employer. 

    Emergency Leave

    If an employee cannot work because their employer has been ordered, under the Nova Scotia Health Protection Act, to close part − or all − of their operations, the employee would be entitled to emergency leave job protection.  This is one example of the application of the emergency leave provisions, there are other circumstances to which the provisions apply.  Employees are entitled to emergency leave for as long as they are unable to perform their work duties as a result of the emergency. Employees eligible for emergency leave must be permitted to return to their job once the emergency ends.  

    PPE Procurement Portal

    Are you a business that can supply products and service in support of Nova Scotia’s response to COVID-19? If so, the provincial government would like to hear from you. A procurement portal has been developed and includes a list of products and services the provincial government is looking for. 

    Help ease the strain on the Halifax wastewater system – Do not flush gloves or wipes!

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Halifax Water has seen a very large increase in the amount of disposable gloves and wipes in the wastewater (sewer) system. These items damage sewer systems, causing sewer backups into homes, businesses, apartments and other properties, and pose a potential health hazard. 

    Halifax Water is asking business owners to help educate the public on this matter. Printable posters are available to be posted where clearly visible to the public.

    For example: 

    • public and employee washrooms;
    • on product shelves where wipes, gloves and masks are sold;
    • on bulletin boards;
    • near checkouts; and 
    • outside near lineups.

    There are several signs, all with the same message, so choose the ones that appeal to your business. Hanging different ones throughout your establishment can help draw attention and get the message across more effectively.

    For more information, please visit Halifax Water.

    Mental Health Resources

    With Canada firmly in the grip of COVID-19, it is anything but business as usual.  Many businesses are closing their doors and laying off staff, others have employees refusing to come to work. We are all stressed and everyone is worried about their health and financial well-being.  Amidst this turbulence, you as a business leader are scrambling to keep your business afloat while leading your staff through these uncertain times.

    Here are links to resources you can access if you’re feeling overwhelmed:

    Nova Scotia

    Federal

    Agriculture Response Program

    The COVID-19 Agriculture Response Program helps Nova Scotia's agriculture industry mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry's competitiveness, productivity and profitability.

    There are 4 streams for funding under the COVID-19 Response and Mitigation Program. The funding doesn't need to be repaid.

    Stream 1: COVID-19 mitigation and adaptation for health protocol

    Applicants are eligible for 75% funding assistance on total eligible project costs to a maximum of $50,000 per program year, to help applicants comply with recommended health protocols.

    Stream 2: COVID-19 marketing, product movement and distribution

    Agriculture companies and registered Nova Scotia farms as applicants are eligible for 50% funding assistance on total eligible project costs to a maximum of $20,000 per project.

    Stream 3: COVID-19 strategic projects

    Initiatives at a sector or industry level will be reviewed for funding on an individual basis. If they're deemed to meet the objectives of the Program, they will be assessed on an individual merit, impact and reach basis.

    Stream 4: COVID-19 abattoir efficiency and development

    Applicants are eligible for 75% funding assistance on total eligible project costs to a maximum of $50,000 per program year.

    These businesses and organizations can apply to the program;

    Farms:

    If the owner is at least 19 years old and is actively farming in the program year
    If the farm is registered in the correct income category under the Farm Registration Act

    Agri-businesses:

    That represent identifiable Nova Scotia agriculture and agri-food products
    That conduct value-added processing of a raw Nova Scotia agriculture product (at least 50% of the business's product), showing a direct partnership and significant economic impact to Nova Scotia's primary agricultural activity

    Agricultural industry associations:

    That represent identifiable Nova Scotia agriculture and agri-food products
    That can prove their not-for-profit status

    Provincially or federally licensed abattoirs

    Mi'kmaq First Nations and other indigenous organizations involved in agriculture business

    Applications from other businesses or organizations may be considered

    Emergency On-Farm Support Fund Program

    Emergency On-Farm Support Fund Program helps farms improve their workers’ health and safety by limiting the spread of COVID-19 in agriculture operations.

    Funding Eligible project costs include:

    • Adjustments to farm operations to ensure worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Personal protective equipment
    • Costs related to training workers on COVID-19 protocols

    Applicants are eligible for assistance of 75% on eligible project costs to a maximum of $50,000. Disposable personal protective equipment is capped at 10% of eligible project cost, to a maximum of $7,000.

    Eligibility Farms can apply to the program if they:

    • Are currently registered under the Farm Registration Act
    • Have an owner who is at least 19 years old
    • Report gross commodity income of at least $30,000
    • Have at least 5 employees
    • Adhere to the Federal Quarantine Act
    Emergency Support for Arts and Culture Organizations

    The Emergency Support for Arts and Culture Organizations program provides immediate funding to arts and cultural organizations in Nova Scotia that have been affected by COVID-19. The funding helps organizations stay in operation so they can maintain or restart activity under current public health guidelines.

    Small Business Loan Guarantee Program

    The program is a joint initiative of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, Atlantic Central, local participating credit unions, and the Province of Nova Scotia. Together, they are delivering better financial assistance for the start-up and expansion of small businesses. The Small Business Loan Guarantee Program supports provincial business owners with creating and maintaining rewarding careers for Nova Scotians each year.

    Credit unions are the only financial provider to offer access to the financing program, which ensures investments in our small businesses start and stay in Nova Scotia. Credit unions can provide financing up to $500,000 in the form of term loans, working capital and lines of credit. No other financing programs provide access to working capital or lines of credit to individuals who would like to start or purchase a small business and/or grow and expand an existing business.
     

    Each application is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and is based on your business plan, viability and character. Your character? That’s right. And it doesn’t stop at the approval. The program is designed to empower Nova Scotia businesses to succeed with ongoing support, including access to a wide network of mentors for business coaching. That makes this program accessible and supportive for Nova Scotia small businesses.

    Loans may be granted for a term of up to of 10 years. The maximum guarantee supplied by the Province of Nova Scotia will be 90 percent of the value of all term loans. The guarantee will remain at 75 percent on lines of credit but a 90 percent guarantee may be available to those that qualify under our special financing streams.

    All types of businesses are eligible except residential and commercial real estate, beverage rooms and taverns, or any venture of a questionable ethical or legal nature. Special financing streams for immigrant entrepreneurs and social enterprises as well as the forestry and high-risk sectors are also available. 

    What is CFIB doing?

    As we regularly communicate with the Nova Scotia government to get answers your questions, we are actively lobbying them to:

    • waive interest and penalty fees for any late/deferred property tax payments.

    FAQ on COVID-19

    We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures from the federal government. Visit our Small Business Help Centre to learn more.