The federal government is rolling out new rules requiring that all air travellers wear face masks covering their noses and mouths while in transit.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced a package of new measures Friday that also will require people flying in Canada to wear masks at all Canadian screening checkpoints whenever maintaining two metres’ separation from others is not possible.
Travellers will have to wear masks whenever they cannot physically distance themselves from others, or when directed to do so by a member of an airline staff or a public health official.
Passengers arriving in or departing from Canada will have to prove they have a non-medical mask or face-covering with them during the boarding process; if they can’t, they can be prevented from continuing their journey.
“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,” Garneau said in a statement.
The new guidelines also ask that people travelling on boats or ships, trains or automotive vehicles voluntarily wear non-medical masks whenever physical distancing is not possible.
The only exceptions to the new rules, which come into effect at noon on April 20, are for children under the age of two and some people with disabilities.
Air passengers displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board aircraft regardless of whether they have a mask.
Garneau’s department said it worked with airlines and unions which had pushed for the regulations to keep workers in the industry safe.
Initially, Canadians were told not to wear non-medical masks because maintaining physical distance from others was seen as sufficient to prevent the spread of the virus.
Garneau’s office said the scientific advice on masks has changed and the rules are changing as well.
The federal government maintains that wearing masks is not a substitute for maintaining a two-meter physical distance from others, regular hand-washing and staying home whenever possible.
Non-medical masks help to prevent those wearing them from spreading the virus.