This story was updated on Sat., Apr. 18th at 12:26 p.m.
Canada's Minister of Transport the Hon. Marc Garneau has announced new measures requiring all air passengers to have a non-medical mask or a removable face cover to cover their nose and mouth at several stages of their trip.
Air travellers are encouraged to wear their non-medical mask or face covering as much as possible, but they must cover their nose and mouth in the following situations:
- at checkpoints at Canadian airports , when screening officers cannot maintain a distance of two meters between them and the passenger;
- during the flight, when it is impossible to keep distance from others or according to the instructions of the employees of the air carrier;
- as directed by a public health authority or official
"Canadians should continue to follow public health advice and stay at home if possible. However, if you need to travel, wearing a face covering is an additional measure you can take to protect others around you, especially in situations where physical distancing guidelines cannot be maintained. Transport Canada will continue to ensure various transportation systems adapt to the most effective, preventive measures to protect Canadians," Minister Garneau stated in a release.
No mask? No access!
Passengers on all flights departing from or arriving at a Canadian airport will also be required to show that they have the required non-medical mask or face covering at the time of boarding, otherwise they may be denied entry in the sterile area of the airport or boarding the aircraft.
Air carriers are responsible for advising passengers when purchasing tickets at the counter or online that they must have a non-medical mask or face cover during the trip when physical distance does not exist to avoid endangering the safety of others.
It is the passenger's responsibility to have the appropriate face cover in their possession.
Air Canada & WestJet respond
Following the directive, Air Canada released a notice stating that it's recommended face-covering practice is now "mandatory" as an additional safeguard for its customers and crew.
"This requirement will apply to customers at various points in Canadian airports, during the boarding process and during flight as may be directed by Air Canada staff where social distancing is not possible," Air Canada stated in a release.
The requirement is effective April 20th, the airline stated.
Since early April, Air Canada has been recommending that all of its customers wear a face-covering over their mouth and noses while onboard its flights following revised recommendations by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
With today's Ministerial Directive, "customers on all itineraries must wear such protection at check-in, at time of boarding, and upon entering the aircraft where social distancing is not possible," the airline stated, reiterating that customers will be required to wear their face coverings while on board.
Air Canada has also implemented social (physical) distancing where possible during boarding and where feasible, on-board its aircraft, with as few people sitting next to one another as possible.
WestJet also issued a statement, supporting the directive.
"It will be mandatory for WestJet’s guests to wear protective face coverings throughout their travel journey, including at the airport and while in flight," the airline stated in a release.
WestJet has also implemented other measures to assist in the safety of guests and crews, including enhanced physical distancing where the middle seat on the Boeing 737s and 787 aircraft and every other seat on our Bombardier Q400 are unavailable to book and left empty during travel.
What is a good mask?
A non-medical mask or face cover should comfortably follow the contours of the face so as to cover the mouth and nose, being fixed to the head by ties or cords forming loops passed behind the ears. It should be easy to put it on and take it off if necessary, for example, when checking the passenger's identity.
While wearing a non-medical mask or face cover is not helpful in protecting the wearer, it is still an important additional measure that all travellers can take to protect those around them, even if they have no symptoms.
Passengers can meet these requirements by following the information published by the Public Health Agency on how to wear a non-medical mask or face mask and, if necessary, make it at home.
Ships, trains and coaches
Note that wearing a non-medical mask or a removable face cover is also now required in several situations related to maritime transport (ferries and passenger ships), rail transport (notably VIA Rail) and road transport (coaches).