Nova Scotia ends public health orders for COVID-19, including mandatory vaccinations

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's top health official says the province will soon be treating COVID-19 like any other respiratory illness.

Chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang says in a news release the change reflects a recent declaration by the World Health Organization that COVID-19 no longer requires a global emergency-type response.

As of today, Nova Scotia has lifted orders under its Health Protection Act, which included mandatory vaccination protocols for high-risk settings including long-term care homes and correctional facilities.

On Thursday, the province's weekly COVID-19 dashboard will be updated for the last time as officials shift to monthly reports.

Beginning in October, COVID-19 data will be reported with other respiratory illnesses in the public health department's Respiratory Watch report.

Nova Scotia's Health Protection Act Order came into effect on March 15, 2020, the day officials announced the province's first presumptive cases of novel coronavirus.

"As we begin to plan for the upcoming respiratory season this fall, we are taking a more general approach, integrating COVID-19 into our respiratory illnesses program," Strang says in the release. "The same type of personal measures that protect us against COVID-19 will also protect us against influenza and other respiratory illnesses."

The release says employers and operators of high-risk settings are now responsible for their own COVID-19 policies, including masking and whether employees, outside service providers and volunteers, need to be vaccinated.

Nova Scotia Health says hospital employees and on-site medical staff will still be required to provide proof of primary series COVID-19 vaccination and are encouraged to obtain all future recommended boosters.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press