COVID testing for rotational workers will soon be mandatory for all who work outside of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
A rotational worker is defined as someone with a set schedule of alternating between living here for no more than 4 weeks at a time and working outside the province. An example cited by the province is an Alberta oil worker.
Currently, it is strongly recommended they get a COVID test on day 1 or 2 following their return, then again on day 6, 7 or 8.
However, Dr. Robert Strang said only around one-third have taken advantage of that voluntary program since it started on Dec. 18.
As of Friday, those tests will be a requirement.
“Audits will be done, and if they do not get their first test, they will be called and reminded to get their second test,” explained Premier Stephen McNeil at a Tuesday briefing. “And if they do not get their second test, they will be fined $1,000.”
“Rotational workers are supposed to follow the 14 day modified self-isolation, and now with this mandatory test policy, it is our hope that we can identify COVID sooner.”
A number of recent cases in the province have been connected to rotational workers.
"Since Dec. 1, 21 of our overall cases, or 9.4 per cent have been rotational workers," Strang stated.
Even if the tests come back negative, they will still need to abide by the modified self-isolation requirements.
"That's because a negative result on one of these days is not definitive proof of having no infection, however it is an important step in detecting infected rotational workers before other people in their home become able to spread the virus when they themselves are out in the community," Strang said.
"I want to stress that we are not blaming or looking to single out rotational workers," he added. "We appreciate and acknowledge the work the are doing, leaving Nova Scotia to earn a living for their families, but also contributing to our economy. It's a necessity."
Modified self-isolation for rotational workers includes being allowed to do the following:
- interact with people who live in their household, including children under a joint custody order or agreement who visit or live part-time in the household, without physical distancing, unless rotational workers become unwell (household members don’t need to self-isolate unless they become unwell)
- spend time outside on their own property
- go for a drive
- go for a walk, run, hike, bike or ATV ride off their property (if they encounter people from outside their household they must wear a mask and maintain a distance of 2 metres)
- visit a park, beach, or other outdoor public space (if they encounter people from outside their household they must wear a mask and maintain a distance of 2 metres)
- spend time at their cabin or vacation home (or a rental location) in Nova Scotia, following the same rules they would at home
- drop off and pick up household members at school, work or recreational activities without getting out of their vehicle
- use no-contact pickup options for groceries or other items purchased online without getting out of their vehicle
- visit a drive-in theatre without getting out of their vehicle
- go through a drive-through, like at a restaurant or bank
- attend necessary (urgent and routine) medical appointments – this includes appointments with physicians and nurse practitioners, dentists, optometrists and other regulated health professionals where in-person treatment is required
However, in the 14 days after they arrive in Nova Scotia, rotational workers can not:
- enter public places (like schools, grocery stores, shopping malls, banks, religious institutions, restaurants and bars)
- attend indoor or outdoor gatherings
- visit people from outside their household
- let people from outside their household visit them on their property or in their home
- volunteer or work in any way that puts them in contact with people outside their household