Canada To Make Masks Mandatory For Airline Passengers

Canada is adding a new requirement for passengers starting on April 30th. Those flying will need to wear a face mask to fly. Airlines and authorities will soon be able to deny travel if a passenger cannot demonstrate they are in possession of a mask.

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Canada will require passengers to wear a face mask onboard flights. Photo: Getty Images

Transport Canada now requires face masks

In a release dated April 17th, the department outlined new measures requiring passengers to wear a face mask from April 20th onwards. This directive applies to passengers departing or arriving in Canada. The mask must be non-medical, cover the nose and mouth area, and remain on during travel. In particular, this applies to areas where the recommended social distancing of two meters (or six feet) would not be possible.

Passengers with masks waiting to board flight
Passengers will need to wear a mask wherever social distancing is not possible. Photo: Getty Images

The aforementioned criteria require that passengers wear their mask during screening, at times when physical distancing may be an issue, or only when airline or public health officials direct passengers to don one.

When do I need to wear a mask?

Passengers should be aware of their physical surroundings when wearing a mask. One should especially be worn when coming in contact with another person, such as during check-in or security screening. You may, however, be asked to take your mask off when entering the security checkpoint to match your photo identification.

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More airline crew members are wearing masks. Photo: Getty Images

In addition, on board the aircraft passengers should wear a mask. While some airlines are blocking middle seats, this is still not up to the standards of social distancing that governments and health agencies are promoting (this is most commonly six feet or two meters apart).

Why is Canada doing this?

Given the rapid and far-reaching spread of the coronavirus, there are concerns over travelers unknowingly carrying the virus and spreading it to others at their final destination. While Canada is encouraging its citizens to stay home, some people may need to travel. One example of essential travel includes repatriation flights. After flying into a major city, some passengers would also need to take a domestic connection.

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Air Canada has been operating repatriation flights over the last month. Photo: Getty Images.

Wearing a mask will further reduce the likelihood of contracting any illness on the aircraft. This move will also be encouraging for airline employees who are concerned about the increased potential for exposure in the course of their duties.

When will this end?

Transport Canada’s announcement did not include an end date. Given the fluid nature of the situation, it makes sense to require this indefinitely. However, once the situation improves, it is highly likely that this requirement may turn into a suggestion. For now, however, it is anyone’s best guess as to when that day will come.

Cabin crew mask
Masks may become more common inflight in a post-coronavirus world. Photo: Getty Images

Flying will likely never be the same again. The rebound in travel will be slow, and airlines and passengers alike will most definitely keep health in the back of their minds during their journey. After all this is over, masks may become more common, not as a requirement, but as a more widespread suggestion when traveling.

Staying healthy while traveling

While a mask will do well to prevent you from coming into contact with other harmful microbes (not just the coronavirus), it will also prevent your droplets from being spread out in a space like an aircraft cabin. There are other healthy flying activities you can partake in during a flight.

Travel with a water bottle and stay hydrated. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

For one, it is important to ensure that you wash your hands as frequently as possible. On a plane, this may mean bringing along hand sanitizer. A sanitary wipe to clean areas like the armrest or inflight monitor is also an excellent addition to your carry-on. However, travelers should be careful about wiping down leather seats with wipes since. In some instances, the dye from the seat may rub off onto your clothing.

Flying can be a dehydrating experience. As many airlines are scaling back their inflight services, it is a good idea to travel with a water bottle and ensure that you remain adequately hydrated. Also, for longer flights, plan ahead to bring a healthy snack with you.

Do you think more countries should require masks while traveling? Let us know in the comments!

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