Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has announced today that all passengers traveling by air in Canada will be required to have their temperatures checked before boarding. Those flying into Canada will be first to be affected, with those traveling outbound and domestically to follow behind. Anyone showing a fever at the departure airport will not be allowed to board the flight.
Mandatory temperature checks
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has today announced that temperature checks will be made mandatory for all air passengers. Trudeau says that this will be undertaken in what he calls a “phased approach’, beginning with those traveling into Canada. Speaking at a news conference, he said,
“A passenger who has a fever will not be permitted to board their flight. Employees in the secured areas of airports will also be required to have their temperature checked.”
Once the requirement is in place for Canadian arrivals, it will be rolled out for those departing Canada also. Finally, it will be applied to anyone traveling by air within Canada. However, the Prime Minister has said that this is not for the purposes of detecting COVID-19 but is more to discourage those who are feeling unwell. He said,
“Temperature checks will not be detecting people with COVID-19. It’s an extra layer of safety to encourage those who might feel sick to stay home.”
Canada has already implemented rules banning travelers from flying if they have obvious symptoms of the coronavirus. Screening forms have also been in place to encourage people to self-report symptoms. However, Canada has not been undertaking temperature checking for fliers, unlike other nations.
Canadian transport minister, Marc Garneau, will be filling in the details on these checks and the timescales involved later on today.
Physical distancing not possible
Trudeau has said that the temperature checks will be necessary due to the inability of airlines to guarantee social distancing on the plane. Although some airlines are blocking the middle seat, even that doesn’t separate passengers by the six-foot distance recommended in most countries.
Although Canada, as a nation, has not been implementing widespread temperature checking, some airlines have been conducting them off their own backs. Air Canada was the first to do so, starting the practice in May.
Testing for temperature is not a guaranteed method of preventing a COVID positive person from boarding a plane. Indeed, many can be asymptomatic, and can, therefore, spread the virus while maintaining a normal temperature. Trudeau is under no illusion that this is not the only measure required to mitigate the spread, saying,
“It is not the panacea.”
Canada is implementing other layers of safety for air travelers, including mandatory mask-wearing and physical distancing at the airport. Airlines, too, have adopted enhanced cleaning measures, as well as handing out care kits to passengers while boarding.
What we don’t know yet is how quickly this measure is supposed to be rolled out, and whether it will be the responsibility of the airline or the airport to undertake the checks. With passengers flying into Canada targeted in the first phase, the move is likely to affect foreign airlines flying into the nation just as much as its home-grown airlines.
What do you make of Trudeau’s temperature checking requirement? A good idea, or not enough? Let us know in the comments.