Nova Scotia will not enter Phase 5 until next month.
This part of the province's reopening plan will include the lifting of protocols including mandatory masking, physical distancing and gathering limits.
It is now scheduled to start on Oct. 4, the same date the province's proof of full vaccination policy kicks in.
Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson made the announcement at a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.
"The fourth wave has been rolling across Canada. It's in New Brunswick and P.E.I. and now it's here," she said.
Nova Scotia announced 66 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, 61 of which are in the Northern Zone, where there is a 'large cluster of linked cases in a defined group" of mostly unvaccinated people.
There are also signs of community spread in the Central Zone among young, unvaccinated adults aged 20 to 40 who are participating in social activities.
Four people are currently in hospital.
"The premier and I are very troubled by this," Thompson said. "To say the least, this is not where we want our epidemiology as we're set to go into Phase 5."
"Staying in Phase 4 is necessary until we have the added protection of the proof of vaccine policy that will allow larger groups of people to gather more safely," she added.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said entering Phase 5 has always required the full vaccination of a minimum 75 per cent of the overall population and good epidemiology.
He said 72.7 per cent of Nova Scotians now have both shots.
"Given where things are here, as well as in New Brunswick and P.E.I., I am not comfortable moving into Phase 5 just yet," he explained. "It is far better to wait until we are ready to implement our proof of vaccine policy."
He said the additional time will also allow health officials to examine the current COVID clusters and monitor for community spread.
"I know this is not welcome news, especially for businesses that have been waiting for us to reopen, and I know many people are tired of wearing masks and being restricted by gathering limits, but unfortunately this pandemic is not done with us yet," he said.
The province says any large arts and entertainment events scheduled to take place before Oct. 4 that have already sold tickets can go ahead, even if they exceed the current gathering limit, as long as those attending wear masks and are fully vaccinated.