Nova Scotia’s top doctor announced border restrictions would be eased for new residents after hearing of widespread concerns over the last couple of weeks.
“We do not want people who are coming to the province to be stuck homeless because of the border restrictions and these changes will address the majority of the concerns that we have heard,” Dr. Robert Strang said, during Friday’s COVID-19 provincial briefing.
The Nova Scotia border went into a strict lockdown along with the rest of the province at the end of April.
People were only granted entry into the province for essential reasons determined by the government.
Compassionate exception applications could be approved for people who were moving, writing an exam, or supporting an immediate family member who was near the end of life.
New homeowners were only initially approved based on whether their offer was accepted before April 21 and their closing date was on or before May 20.
Dozens of new residents say that strict closing date criteria forced them into a situation where they had nowhere to go.
“We follow all the protocols, we quarantine, you fill out the compassionate plea and the response was, ‘Sorry, your house closes after a date. Eight days,'” Nancy and Mark Browning said, a northern Ontario couple who are moving to rural Nova Scotia.
That May 20 closing date requirement was scrapped during Friday’s Nova Scotia COVID-19 briefing.
“We are tweaking the criteria for who can move here by removing some of the date requirements,” Strang announced.
Now, new residents are permitted to enter the province and move into their new residence if they have a purchase agreement showing their offer was accepted on or before May 1.
It’s a game-changer for dozens of new families who are in the process of making Nova Scotia their new home.
“What a massive relief. I’m really, really glad this happened. This removes a lot of the uncertainty and that’s been really hard on people to not know when they can plan for and what the next step is going to be,” Sarah Romkey said, a new Nova Scotia resident who is moving to a rural part of the province with her family.
“So, I just really appreciate the clarity of today’s message.”
The Brownings echo Romkey’s take.
“Cross knowing that we will have a final destination other than the side of the road,” Nancy Browning said.
Nova Scotia is counting on new residents to help fuel economic recovery. $1.1 million in taxpayer money was spent on an advertising campaign to recruit remote workers to move to the province.
The campaign ran until the end of March.
Romkey says the campaign was part of the reason she and her family decided to move back to their home province.
Like many, the pandemic has reshaped their priorities and the value they place on being close to family members, a move she says she is one step closer to accomplishing.
Anyone who is moving to the province must have a Nova Scotia Safe Check-in application approved before they are permitted to enter. That plan includes a 14-day self-isolation requirement.
The provincial environment department states that between April 22 and May 18, 133 people have been denied entry and Nova Scotia land borders.